Be aware online! The scams to watch in 2023

New figures released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission showed that Australians lost $3.1bn to scams in 2022 – with the real figure thought to be far greater, with people too embarrassed to report losses.

Earlier this year, we covered some of the most common scams around – and all of those are still incredibly common.

However, new scams are emerging all of the time, and some we’re already familiar with are taking new, more sinister turns.

All of this means, of course, that we need to be on guard with pretty much every interaction we have, particularly online or over the phone.

Here are a few scams you need to be on the lookout for.

Qantas text scams

A new one doing the rounds is an SMS pretending to be from Qantas, which ‘confirms’ a new flight has been booked, and provides a number to call ‘if this was not you’. Of course, this is a scam – never call a number or click on a link provided in an SMS. If in doubt, Google the number provided – scam numbers are quickly identified online – and if you wanted to contact the company, in this instance Qantas, visit their website and call the publicly listed number.

Linkt toll text scams

If you haven’t had an SMS pretending to be from Linkt, asking you to pay a toll notice or update your vehicle’s details, you’re probably in the minority. In just five weeks recently, more than 105,000 reports were made about these messages, and the reality is that number will be a very small proportion of actual incidents, as research conducted by Linkt suggests just nine per cent of people actually report suspicious texts. Again, never click on a link or call a number in an SMS. If you think you may have outstanding road tolls, call the company on the publicly listed number on their website.

Clairvoyant scams

Of course, the natural line here is ‘you should have seen that coming’, but clairvoyant scams are no laughing matter. Scamwatch has received 63 reports so far this year of people falling victim to con artists pretending to be clairvoyants. People report being approached via social media, post, email, phone and even face-to-face by ‘clairvoyants’ who’ve simply gained information about the person from social media and their digital footprint. Scamwatch advises: do not send money to anyone claiming to be a clairvoyant.

The PayID scam

The PayID scam has been doing the rounds for a while now, but it’s worth refreshing your memory as it’s still conning people out of cash. Essentially, it goes like this. A person advertises something for sale on social media. They get a response from someone who will usually first ask if the item is still available and then offer to purchase it. They’ll then come up with an excuse as to why they can’t collect the item, but their brother/cousin/family pet will.

They want to pay you in advance by PayID, but will then send you an email pretending to be from PayID, saying you need to pay a refundable $500 to activate your ‘business’ PayID account.

This is a scam.

PayID is a very legitimate way of paying. However, it’s a free service and will go directly to your bank account if you have it set up with your bank. Never send any money to someone who’s attempting to buy goods from you.

The MyGov email scam

A new email scam pretends to come from MyGov. It tells you that for the past few months it’s had access to your computer, microphone and camera, browsing history, photos and videos you’ve viewed, and will release them all in 48 hours to everyone you know. It then asks for money to be paid by Bitcoin to remove the Trojan virus that was used to access all of this information.

This is a scam, and Scamwatch advice is to delete the email and not respond, as a response will lead to escalation.

Your bank calling you scam

News reports recently told the story of a woman who lost almost $300,000 to scammers, who had called her pretending to be from her bank.

She received a call alleging to be from CommBank, and the caller told her there had been fraudulent transactions on her account.

She logged onto internet banking, to see there indeed had been multiple fraudulent transactions. The caller told her that her card wasn’t secure, people were trying to hack into her accounts right now, and she needed to stop them. She was sent a ‘TeamViewer’ link for the ‘bank’ to check the security of her online banking, and the caller kept telling her he was dealing with live threats, and got her to read security codes that were being sent. This was the scammer draining her accounts, and almost $300,000 wasn’t able to be recovered.

If you ever receive an unexpected call from your ‘bank’, ask for a reference number, and call back on the publicly listed number available on the bank’s website.

Deepfake voice calls

A new scam to be aware of uses ‘deepfake’ voices to call you and pretend they’re someone you know – for example, your child, parent or partner. Deepfaking works by getting recordings of a person’s voice from social media, and feeding them into a computer which can then make someone else sound like that person. If you do receive a call from an unrecognised number alleging to be someone you know, be on guard. Ask questions only they would know the answer to in order to verify their identity, and/or call them back on the number you have stored.

The team here at Fennell West are here to help you stay safe online. Please contact us if you have any questions, and remember to follow these tips to minimise the chances of you falling victim to scammers.