Just hang up!
Are we far too polite? The 3.1 billion dollars that has been stolen from Australians since 2022 answers this question for us, with a resounding YES! Scammers are targeting Australians and they are cunning. They can now send a text message to your mobile phone pretending to be from a family member (mum, dad, child or grandchild), asking for money, they can conjure up believable spiels, ‘fix’ your broken computer and assist you with your ‘tax debts’.
If they are that clever, is there any way to use technology, or even simply answer the phone without falling victim to these people? There are several things you can do to protect yourself and the most important one is to simply be less polite. If you get a phone call, message, or email from someone you don’t know, an organisation or even a government agency and they ask you for ANY personal information – JUST HANG UP! Or in the case of an email or message JUST DELETE! If you want to confirm what you’re seeing/hearing you can hang up and call the organisation on their number found on google. For example, let’s say you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), asking for details from you, hang up and get out your phone or computer; Type into the search bar Australian Taxation Office, select the ATO website (make sure if it is a government department the address of the website ends in ‘.gov.au’) and navigate to their ‘contact us’ page. Once you find their phone number, you can call the agency directly and confirm the validity of the call you received. They will be able to advise you if someone tried to call you and confirm if the information is correct, i.e., do you have a debt or not. You can repeat this process with messages and emails as well. If you get a message or call from your child or grandchild asking for money, check the phone number, if there is anything suspicious about it, it is a new number or there is no number, DO NOT RESPOND! Instead find their number in your phone (not the number on the message) and call them to confirm.
NEVER click links in emails or messages from numbers or emails that you don’t know. Even when you do know the person, you can instead type the website into the address bar on your internet browser and navigate to the correct page. For example, your mum sends you a link to an article on the ABC: instead of clicking the link, go to chrome or safari and search for the ABC’s website, you can then use their ‘search’ feature to find the article.
So, you’ve become the victim of a scam, what should you do? First of all, if you provided ANY personal information especially bank card details, you need to report this to the appropriate organisation. In the case of your bank card, contact your bank immediately and cancel that card, or if you have internet banking, you can block your card and order a new one through the website or app. If you provided your driver’s license or any other information, make sure to report this too. The next step is to report the scam. You can do this via SCAMWATCH by going to scamwatch.gov.au and selecting ‘Report a scam’. This will help to have the scam identified, investigated and circulated so that others are aware and less likely to fall victim to it themselves. On the SCAMWATCH website, you can also subscribe to scam alert emails, to be notified of current scams that have been identified. Simply navigate to ‘News & alerts’ and select ‘Subscribe to scam alert emails’.
Protect yourself from scams.
Stop being polite.
JUST HANG UP!
Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support and myGov related scams:
Financial and investment scams:
Fraud and theft:
Local police 131 444
Tax related scams:
Office of the eSafety Commissioner: