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Protect yourself from scams

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

There's been a large increase in scams targeting banking customers in Australia. To help you to better protect yourself against common scams, we've put together some useful information and things to look out for.

Scams change all the time, but most have a few things in common.

The goal is always the same - your money, your information, or both!
The scammer will be very persuasive to gain your trust. It’s their job and they’re very good at it!
The scammer may try to isolate you, tell you to keep what you’re doing secret, or even ask you to be untruthful to your bank, friends, and family.

Common types of scams

Remote access scams

Be cautious if you receive a request from someone saying they work for a large organisation, and that they need you to download software or apps to your electronic device.

Remote access scams occur when the scammer contacts you via phone, email, or text, claiming to work for a well-known company. You may even be presented with a pop up on your computer prompting you to call the number on screen. Banks, telco providers, and government agencies are often impersonated for this type of scam.

They'll often tell you a fake but credible story, such as claiming your security has been compromised, to convince you to give them remote access to your device or computer.

Remote access applications such as AnyDesk, QuickSupport or TeamViewer can be used by a scammer to gain access to your device which may include direct access to your internet banking, passwords, card details or personal information.

It’s highly unlikely that the real company would make an unsolicited call or ask you for remote access to your devices. Treat any unsolicited calls with caution, and if you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call back on the company’s official contact number.

Police, tax, and government scams

These scams occur when someone contacts you claiming to be from a government organisation, like the police force or the Australian Tax Office. They might say that you owe money for a fine or tax bill and advise that urgent payment is required, perhaps by purchasing gift cards. Or they might use the promise of a tax refund to trick you into sharing personal information or to download malware. Government agencies do not behave in this way.

They might say they need your help (and your bank account) to catch a fraudster, or if you have been a victim before, to help you get your money back. Police agencies do not act in this way.

If you receive one of these calls, you should hang up, confirm the number from a legitimate source, and call the organisation back. They’ll be able to confirm if the call was genuine and if any further action is required.

Another common scam is an email that looks like it comes from myGov. It has the subject line ‘Important information regarding your account’, includes the myGov logo and claims to be from the myGov team. Instead, the email is a phishing scam designed to steal your personal and financial information which will then be used against you.

To ensure you stay safe, never give your account or card details to anyone without checking if the request is legitimate. It also helps if you know the status of any tax debt you owe, refunds due and lodgements outstanding. Then you’ll be less likely to fall victim to a scam. Find out more on the Australian Cyber Security Centre website.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are intended to look like legitimate communications from well-known companies and can be received via email, text, or even social media posts and messages. They may look like they come from your bank, your telco provider, or even one of your Facebook friends, but they’re cleverly designed to trick you into providing personal details.

They’ll often claim that there is a problem with your account, and request you click a link to verify your details on a fake copy of a company website. Sometimes they can be as simple as a short message saying you have a parcel on the way, but if you click the link, malware may be installed on your device. Or you may receive as a message on social media from one of your friends asking you to click on a suspicious link.

Most organisations will have their own email domain and company accounts. For example, legitimate emails from P&N Bank will read ‘@pnbank.com.au’. If the domain name (the bit after the @ symbol) matches the apparent sender of the email, the message is probably legitimate. By contrast, if the email comes from an address that isn’t affiliated with the apparent sender, it’s almost certainly a scam. The most obvious way to spot a phishing email is if the sender uses a public email domain, such as ‘@gmail.com’.

If you receive one of these communications, you should avoid clicking on any links or filling in any forms and delete it immediately. Be aware of anything that includes a sense of urgency or is asking for your personal information and always keep an eye out for any email addresses that don’t look legitimate. This could be easy to spot as a completely random sequence, or as subtle as a spelling error.

P&N Bank will never ask you to supply your personal information or login details via an unsecure email attachment, and we will never send a link via text directing you to login to Internet Banking.

Investment scams

An investment scam is when someone gets in touch with you out of nowhere and offers promises of big payouts or profits, quick money, or guaranteed returns.

You may receive a call or email from someone claiming to be a portfolio manager or stockbroker offering investments with high returns, or you may be contacted by someone on social media offering you an easy opportunity to make money. The scammer will seem knowledgeable and may provide you with information and figures to convince you of their legitimacy, but it pays to do your research before investing.

You should always perform sufficient checks before providing your details to anyone that’s contacted you out of the blue. Information on registered financial advisors can be found on the ASIC website, and ASIC also has a list of companies you should not deal with. If the company that’s contacted, you is on this list – do not invest with them. Independent information about investment choices can be found on ASIC’s Moneysmart website.

Telephone scams

Telephone scams are another one to keep an ear out for. A common telephone scam is where a scammer calls and claims to be from your bank, the ATO, or a telco provider. They may ask for personal or banking details or ask you to make a transfer to send funds back.

Please be aware that P&N will never ask for you to transfer money to correct an error.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a P&N employee and it sounds unusual, please don't provide any banking or personal information. Ask for their name, hang up and call our Contact Centre on 13 25 77.

Relationship scams

Relationship scams normally start as a friend request on social media or a match on a dating site. They can take the form of platonic friendships or potential romances. The scammer uses a fake identity to lure you in and build an emotional connection with you in order to get money from you.

Common reasons these scammers claim to need money may be for medical costs, large bills, flights and accommodation, family issues, or because they’ll be in danger without it.

To help protect yourself from relationship scams, be wary of any requests for money, never send money to someone you haven’t met in person, and always consider the possibility that the approach they’re taking may be a scam.

Sometimes the scammer will even ask you to accept money into your bank account and then transfer it to someone else. These scenarios are very likely to be forms of money laundering which is a criminal offence. Never agree to transfer money for someone else.

Find out more about relationship scams on the Scamwatch website.

Elder financial abuse

Elder financial abuse can occur when strangers, carers or even trusted family members or friends, cheat an older person out of their assets. This can include but is not limited to things such as their home or savings, and is often done by forgery, lies, misrepresentation or manipulation.

We encourage our members to read Safe & Savvy: A guide to help older people avoid abuse, scams and fraud by the Australian Banking Association to learn more.

SIM swap fraud

This fraud focuses on moving control of your phone account from your sim card to one controlled by a criminal. Depending on your provider, this can often be done with as little information as your name, mobile number and date of birth – details which can sometimes be found on social media or obtained via a phishing scam.

If a fraudster has the information required and convinces your telco to request a sim swap and change personal settings, the fraudster can then take over your mobile phone number and, potentially has access to your two-factor authentication and bank accounts. All the while, you can be unaware that your mobile number has been moved.

To protect yourself against SIM swap fraud, keep an eye out for any unexpected messages from your provider saying that you have requested for your number to be transferred.

If you suspect you may have fallen victim to one of these scams, contact your telco provider immediately to see if anything can be done to prevent it, and contact your bank and other important providers to ensure nothing suspicious has occurred.


What to do if you have been scammed

If you think you may have been scammed and provided the scammer with your banking details, please contact us immediately.

Depending on the type of scam, we recommend you change your login password via Internet Banking, and also run an anti-virus/malware check across all your devices.

If the scammers are successful in stealing your money or identity you should report the matter to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and your local police.


Would you like more information?

The Australian Government's Cyber Security Centre website has tips and information to help you stay safe online.

You can also visit a branch and pick up a copy of the “Little Black Book of Scams”, produced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to help you avoid becoming a scam victim.

The Australian Government’s Scamwatch website also has a range of information and support.

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