Aug 13

When it comes to scams, most people believe they are immune to falling victim but as part of National Scams Awareness Week leading compensation lawyer Travis Schultz is warning of just how common it is and the difficulty with recovering costs.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimates Australians are expected to lose a record amount due to scams in 2019, with losses exceeding $532 million by the end of the year.

The principal of Travis Schultz Law said the difficulty with this type of crime, is that the money obtained by the scammers is often sent overseas.

“If a scammer is caught, the law provides a right of recourse but once the money leaves the jurisdiction, it can be very difficult to recover,” said Mr Schultz.

“These scammers are professionals with call centres and teams of trained staff following convincing scripts. What’s important is that people acknowledge the professionalism of these operations and don’t assume they won’t fall victim to scams.

“As Australians we are used to relying on the legal system to address criminal activity, however in the case of scams, our hands are largely tied when it comes to righting the wrong.

“The best advice to all Australians is to be alert and protect your personal data and identity.”

Founder and Managing Director of IDCARE David Lacey said his organisation – based on the Sunshine Coast – has been pivotal in helping reduce the harm from having an identity stolen or misused.

“Demand for IDCARE’s community services has doubled year on year since the Commonwealth Government launched the national service in 2014,” said Mr Lacey.

“The impact on members of the community and small business can be devastating. Most Australians experience not just financial losses, but also psychological trauma from experiencing these crimes.”

Mr Schultz said there are a number of simple tips people should be mindful of in their day-to-day lives to avoid scammers.

“It is a fact of life in the 21st Century that the digital age has emboldened once petty criminals,” said Mr Schultz.

“Scams can often be run from abroad making the perpetrators very hard to catch.

“Sadly, it has created a new industry and these days the petty shoplifters of the past have become cyber criminals of a digital age.”

Scam awareness tips:

  • Never give out your bank and personal details by email or text.
  • Only use secure websites that you know and trust.
  • A secure website will always begin with https:// and NOT http://.  It will normally also display the image of a closed padlock in the address bar. Only shop online if it is a secure website.
  • Be wary when a friend shares something.  They could have been hacked and if you open what they are sharing, it might be a virus.
  • Always carefully consider the email address from which an email has been sent.
  • Don’t follow links in an email.  You will be able to find the same link on the website for the business.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Travis Schultz Law is encouraging people to learn more about protecting yourself on www.scamwatch.gov.au. If you have been scammed or had your identity stolen go online to www.idcare.org.

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