Leading seniors advocate COTA Australia today urged older Australians to be vigilant to fraudsters and scammers who swindled a reported $21 million from people aged over 55 last year.
Marking 2016 National Consumer Fraud Week, COTA Australia’s CE Ian Yates said older people are too often the victims of professional criminal scammers who can catch out even the most highly educated and attuned individuals.
He said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported the most common scams as those perpetrated over the phone and in the areas of dating and romance scams, investment schemes, computer prediction software scams, lottery scams and remote access scams.
There are a number of things older people can do to protect themselves again the scammers including:
Know who you’re dealing with – get independent verification
Seek professional advice only on investing money
If you didn’t enter a competition you haven’t won – don’t be taken into to people telling you otherwise
Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer
Don’t agree to anything over the phone
Get a second opinion. If someone is requesting money from you and you have any doubts, discuss it with a trusted and reliable third party.
“The statistics released today by the ACCC of scams perpetrated against older Australians are shocking,” Mr Yates said.
“At COTA we regularly hear heartbreaking stories of scams that have targeted older Australians and unfortunately hit their mark, stealing precious retirement resources from older people which can never be recouped.
“We encourage all older people to follow the ACCC advice for avoiding scammers and always stop and consider who and what you are agreeing to before you go ahead. If in doubt, get independent verification about the person or organization you are dealing with.
“It’s also always important for anyone who has been scammed to contact the ACCC with details of their experience to see if anything can be done to rectify it and warn others.
“But there is only so much individuals can do to protect themselves and COTA encourages the government and its law enforcement agencies and consumer protection regulators to step up their pursuit of the criminals who perpetuate scams.”
For more information and advice visit: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/fraudweek2016
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774
COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.