According to the latest report, “Targeting scams: report of the ACCC on scams activity 2022,” Australians experienced a staggering loss of at least $3.1 billion in 2022, based on reported losses alone. This represents an alarming 80% increase compared to 2021.
In response to this growing issue, Optus has introduced a new feature called “Call Stop” to combat scams actively. Optus is collaborating with the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX) and participating financial institutions to reduce scam calls and scam SMS by sharing information. As part of these efforts, calls to phone numbers associated with scams may be automatically blocked.
If you attempt to call the blocked number, you will hear that “The number you have called has been reported as being used for scam activities. “
Tips for Safeguarding Yourself Against Scams
- Be cautious with personal information: Avoid sharing personal information, such as your full name, date of birth, address, bank account details, or passwords, unless you have verified the legitimacy of the recipient. Additionally, minimize exposing your phone number on the internet to reduce the risk of it falling into the wrong hands.
- Alert with unknown numbers: If you receive an SMS or call from an unfamiliar number, consider conducting an online search to determine if it has been reported as a scam number. This proactive step can help you assess the credibility of the communication and make informed decisions regarding your response.
- Be attentive to unusual sounds: If you answer a phone call and hear mechanical or recorded sounds, it is essential to take precautionary measures.
- Double-checking: When you receive a text message containing phone numbers or links, it is essential to verify their authenticity before clicking on them or making any calls. For instance, obtain the official phone number from a verified source, such as an official website. Scam websites often mimic official url, so it is crucial to meticulously verify the URL character by character to ensure its legitimacy.
- Report incidents: If you receive a scam text or call, you can report it to scamwatch.gov.au, an initiative led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. By reporting such incidents, you contribute to disrupting and preventing scams, helping protect others from falling victim to fraudulent activities.
Actions to Take if You Have Fallen Victim to a Scam
- Contact your bank or financial institution: Take immediate action by contacting your relevant bank or financial institution to report the scam. Inform them about the situation, and they can assist you in freezing your account, cancelling any pending payments, and implementing necessary measures to prevent further financial loss.
- Preserve evidence and report: Keep all digital information related to the scam, such as emails, names, phone numbers, and any other relevant details. Additionally, make a written record of the conversations and details you remember from memory. These pieces of evidence will be valuable when reporting the scam to the appropriate authorities or organizations e.g scamwatch.gov.au, The Australian Cyber Security Centre .
- Seek assistance for recovery: IDCARE is a national identity and cyber support service available in Australia and New Zealand. They offer free assistance in developing a recovery plan to help mitigate the damage caused by the scam. Reach out to IDCARE for expert guidance and support in minimizing the impact of the scam on your personal information and identity.