Spreading the word about scams
Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) recently hit the road to spread the word about scams to hundreds of migrant students to raise awareness of the types of scams they might encounter, how to avoid them, and what to do if they fall victim.
More than 350 students participating in the Adult Migrant English Program attended seven free community legal education sessions at Box Hill Institute. These sessions were hosted by ECLC, Centrelink, and the Australian Tax office.
ECLC’s free community legal education session at Pines Learning Centre attracted a further 10 English language class students who had recently migrated to Australia.
Iresha Buthgamuwa, ECLC’s Community Development Coordinator, said while the sessions were for migrant students, the lessons on scamming are important for everyone.
“It is often too late by the time someone becomes a victim so prevention and education are critical to help raise the awareness of scams and how to protect ourselves and the communities in which we live,” Iresha said.
With new scams emerging it seems every day and with scammers becoming more sophisticated, it can be challenging to stay ahead of the scammers and to even consider that you might become a victim.
This means it is important to understand what a scam is, the types of scams, how you can avoid getting scammed, and where to find out more:
What is a scam?
A scam is a fake scheme carried out by an individual, group, or company to dishonestly obtain money or something else of value from you. Scammers generally misrepresent themselves as people who have skill or authority, e.g. bank, financial institution, or government department. Scammers will generally contact you online, over the phone, or sometimes in person.
What are common types of scams?
- Attempting to get your personal information to commit dishonest activities such as using your credit card or opening a bank account.
- Buying or selling products and services that are not real.
- Pretending to be prospective companions on dating websites, apps or social media to get you to give money, gifts or personal details.
- Pretending to be a charity and asking you for donations or asking for money after natural disasters or major events.
- Selling investments that are too good to be true to get hold of your cash.
- Tricking job seekers into handing over their money by offering them a ‘guaranteed’ way to make fast money or get a high-paying job for little effort.
- Threatening your life or ‘hijacking’ your computer to steal your identity or your money.
- Inventing convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about offers of money that you will receive.
- Telling you you’ve won something to trick you into giving money upfront or your personal information so you can get the prize from a lottery or competition that you never entered.
- Car napping where a tow truck arrives at an accident and convinces the driver to sign a form that authorises a third party to act on their behalf, to repair the vehicle, store it, charge excessive storage fees, and use a lawyer to recover costs.
How to avoid scams
Remember, if it is too good to be true, then it generally is too good to be true. There are no get-rich-quick schemes, so always think twice before handing over your details or dollars.
Ask yourself why would the company pay you so much for only a few hours work or for this type?
Ask why is this so cheap?
If you are unsure if you are talking to a scammer, then hang up the phone and call the official company back.
If you receive a suspicious letter or email, then call the company or authority and ask them if they sent you the letter or email. Don’t rely on contact details or email links that the scammer has given you.
Be careful who you give your personal details, e.g. licence, passport, or bank accounts, to as scammers can use this personal information to take out loans or to scam other people.
If you are involved in a car accident, then do not sign a thing until you’ve spoken to your insurer.
Find out more
- Consumer Affairs Victoria
- ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network)
- Department of Home Affairs – Migration fraud and scams
National Scams Awareness Week runs from 12-16 August as part of a national campaign by the Scams Awareness Network.