Phone and email scams are on the rise and the scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated as they attempt to get their hands on your money or personal details.
What has become clear in both personal and professional situations is that scams succeed because they look like the real thing.
They catch you off-guard and when you’re not expecting it. They interrupt your work day, your evening meal and invade your personal space to break through your defences.
So, it pays to be alert and to protect yourself and your business from being scammed – and we here at MWM are no different.
We monitor phone calls and emails regularly for scams and viruses that could invade our computers, databases, email systems and secure networks, that could cause massive disruption to our business.
They simply cannot be ignored. We have to be increasingly proactive about security.
A recent alert by the Australian Taxation office (ATO) warned of a phone scam where scammers have been contacting members of the public by phone and pretending to be from the ATO.
The scammers then claim that there are outstanding tax debts and threaten people with arrest if the debt is not paid immediately.
This is nothing new and the ATO have sent out alerts almost monthly reporting similar scams and fraudulent activity. What is new are the tactics, which change to catch us when our guard is down.
Trust your instincts, be vigilant, be proactive and report potential scams
Some of our clients have been very quick to report receiving calls in the most recent scam attack, by notifying our office as well as the ATO about the alarming threats being made towards them.
We are appreciative to our clients for taking proactive steps to protect themselves and their businesses from these kinds of targeted attacks.
We were able to inform our clients that if they do receive any calls that they are are not sure of, especially if claiming to be an organisation such as the ATO, they should feel free to instruct the caller to contact their ATO registered tax agent on file, which the ATO will obviously have on file.
A legitimate ATO representative will be able to see our contact details on your personal and business account.
Sure, that’s easy for us to say, but when you are caught on the hop and threatened in such a way as these current scammers are doing, it is easy to get caught up in the moment and react against your own best understandings.
The ATO’s alert suggested that scammers were taking a more sophisticated approach to fooling people into divulging private information and have provided the following helpful tips to identify scam calls:
A legitimate caller from the ATO will never:
- 1. Threaten you with arrest
- 2. Demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
- 3. Refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent
- 4. Present a phone number on caller ID
There’s no one group of people who are more likely than others to become a victim of a scam, all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some time.
Remember, if it rings alarm bells for you straight away, it probably is a scam.
Protect yourself and your business
- 〉Open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails
- 〉Use the contact details provided in the message sent to you
- 〉Respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access
- 〉Keep your personal details secure
- 〉Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents
- 〉Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place
- 〉Be careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites
- 〉Keep your mobile devices and computers secure
- 〉Protect your WiFi network with a password
- 〉Avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking
- 〉Choose your passwords carefully
- 〉Beware of any requests for your details or money
- 〉Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust
- 〉Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence
- 〉Be wary of unusual payment requests including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin
- 〉Be careful when shopping online
- 〉Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust
- 〉Think twice before using virtual currencies (like Bitcoin) – they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods, which means you can’t get your money back once you send it
Of course, it is not all about banking, taxes and finance. Here’s a list of the most common types of scams to look out for:
- 〉Attempts to gain your personal information
- 〉Buying or selling
- 〉Dating and romance
- 〉Fake charities
- 〉Jobs and employment
- 〉Threats and extortion
- 〉Unexpected money
- 〉Unexpected winnings
- 〉For further information
If you’d like to discuss these issues further with an MWM advisor, simply call 07 5596 9070 or email – firstname.lastname@example.org – to book an appointment.