Be alert, don't get scammed

Scamwatch

Every year, thousands of Australians are targeted by scams, whether it be online, via phone, mail or even in person.

The Port Stephens Examiner has compiled a list of current scams identified on scamwatch.gov.au, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website dedicated to informing people about fraudulent and dishonest activities:

Valentine's Day and romance scams

  • Often originate on Instagram and Facebook, Google Hangouts and chat forums as well as dating platforms such as Tinder or Match.com.
  • Scammers try to make their target fall in love with the persona they have created and quickly profess their love for the victim.
  • Will normally weave complicated stories about why they can't meet in person and ask the victim to send money or provide financial aid so they can travel to meet them.
  • While less common, there have also been instances of scammers meeting their victim in person and requesting money.
  • If the person sends money, the scammer will ask for more, and if they don't, the scammer may become aggressive or use guilt to manipulate their victim.

'Celebrity' endorsements

  • Scams often appear as online advertisements or promotional stories on social media or a seemingly legitimate, trustworthy website.
  • Include fictitious quotes and doctored or out-of-context images of the celebrity promoting a product such as skin care creams, weight loss pills, or investment schemes.
  • People aged 45 and older accounted for 63 per cent of losses to these scams. Women are more likely than men to be a victim.
  • The scam works by consumers signing up for a 'free trial' for a product. As part of this process, they have to provide their credit card details. The 'free trial' has strict terms and conditions such as having to return the product within a near impossible timeframe, or automatically renewing subscription that is difficult to cancel. Terms are often only visible on the document that arrives with the product.