Sadly Christmas is also scam time
While most of us see Christmas as a joyous fun time, a time with family, catch up with friends, cricket and BBQs, but for a nasty few it is prime scam time.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reports people lost $75million to scammers in 2015. The ACCC received 85,000 complaints about scams with ten per cent of callers saying they had lost money to the fraudsters.
The scammers like Christmas because many people are at home and relaxed. People don’t expect somebody to try and rip them off when they are on holiday. Many people are lonely at this time and are vulnerable to clever scammers who prey on them.
The ACCC Scamwatch site lists some common scams.
*Fake charities are big at Christmas with scammers impersonating genuine charities or natural disaster fundraising asking for donations. Check their credentials, better still only donate through their accredited office or website.
*Fake calls from Centrelink, tax office banks or authorities trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details by saying they have a rebate for you. Ask for their name, then hang up and call the office to make sure they are who they say they are.
*Unexpected money and winnings coming your way. It’s an oldie but people still fall for it. They’ll say they need money to be able to send you the winnings, and they want your bank details. If it’s too good to be true it is.
*Dating and romance scams are particularly nasty and hurtful. The scammers are skilled at sucking you in and prey on your loneliness or vulnerability, but they will eventually ask for money to help with some disaster or pay for travel to see you.
*Obtaining your personal information as well as bank details is an increasing scam for identity theft so they can use your credit card or open a bank account in your name. Never share – even if the call or email looks genuine. Check it out.
*Threats and extortion sound overblown, but scammers will do anything to steal your identity and get your money.
Forty per cent of scams come by phone, but 29 per cent come through emails, 8 per cent via the Internet, 5 per cent via mail, and 3 per cent via text message. Just 1 per cent come in person, so it’s clear the scammers prefer to keep their distance.
Anneka Frayne of Stacks Law Firm warns to check bills thoroughly and if you are targeted by scammers it’s worth speaking to a legal expert who may be able to help secure your situation.