18 June 2024

'No-one is being spared': Michael McCormack to hold scam education forum

| Jarryd Rowley
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According to Scamwatch, phone-related scams are the most common ways in which people lose money. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A free community forum will be held at the Wagga Wagga Civic Centre this Wednesday (19 June) to educate the community about potential online and digital scams.

The forum, organised by Member for Riverina Michael McCormack, has been announced as a response to the growing number of scams aimed at Riverina residents.

A statement released by Mr McCormack’s office says the forum will “arm residents with information on how to protect themselves against insidious attacks which are robbing people – particularly the vulnerable and elderly – sometimes of many thousands of dollars”.

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Mr McCormack said he was delighted to be teaming up with the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones to deliver the free education session.

“It seems no-one is being spared from the bombardment of attempted scams lately,” Mr McCormack said. “Be it investment scams, romance scams, employment scams, false billing or phishing scams, we are all being targeted one way or another.

“Australians reported $345.6 million in losses to Scamwatch between 1 January and 31 March this year alone.

“Minister Jones has great knowledge and experience in combatting scams and I appreciate him taking the time to come to Wagga Wagga and share that with our community.”

Mr McCormack said Australia Post research had found 73 per cent of Australians had received a fake delivery or package scam message and more than half of those surveyed admitted to initially believing a fake delivery message was genuine.

According to Scamwatch, text and phone scams are the most common avenues through which people in NSW lose money.

Scamwatch states that there’s a good chance a text is a scam if the message asks you to:

  • take immediate action
  • make a payment or transfer money
  • click on a link or call a number provided in the message
  • log on to an online account with your username and password or to provide other personal information.

To rush you into acting, the text might also claim something urgent like:

  • you or your accounts have been hacked or involved in fraud
  • there’s a problem with your payment or your package delivery
  • threatening to stop a service or charge a fine if you don’t act.

“I would encourage anyone who wants to learn more about protecting themselves against scammers to attend the forum – what you learn might help you keep your life savings,” Mr McCormack said.

Fake tax refund emails and texts are also common, with Mr McCormack revealing he recently received an email claiming he was due to receive a $2,890.87 refund. The email included a link which, if he had clicked on it, would have placed him in jeopardy.

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Minister Jones said anyone with a phone or an internet connection would know scammers were relentless in their pursuit to steal people’s money.

“We urge Australians to remain alert to the threat of scammers and report any suspicious activity,” Minister Jones said.

“The government is absolutely determined to keep Australians’ money safe from these criminal scammers.

“We are implementing an ambitious anti-scam agenda and will continue to introduce strategies that protect people’s money and make it harder for scammers to operate.”

The forum will be held between 1 and 2 pm tomorrow, 19 June, in the Wagga Wagga City Council meeting room. Mr McCormack is asking people interested in attending the forum to RSVP by email at [email protected] or by telephoning his Wagga Wagga electorate office on (02) 6921 4600.

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