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Be yourself. Don't let a scammer be you

17 August 2020

This year for Scams Awareness Week, consumers are being warned about the threat of personal and identity theft scams. 

Running from August 17 - 21, regulators are putting the spotlight on identity theft scams which cost Australians $15.8 million in 2019. 

Identity theft scams that involved hacking had the highest reported losses totalling $5.1 million. 

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said South Australians are not immune to scams, with the ACCC's 2019 Targeting Scams Report revealing they lost $5.7 million to scams last year, including identity theft. 

"So many scams have potential to steal your identity and personal information," he said.

"The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many into the digital environment where scammers thrive.

"You might receive an email or phone call from a scammer impersonating a reputable company or government agency, but legitimate organisations should never ask for your personal information over the phone if they've initiated the call or ask to hotspot to your computer. 

"Always be aware of unexpected phone calls, messages and emails. If you're unsure if it is legitimate, just delete it or hang up. Never click on the link or respond to messages or emails.

"Identity and personal information scams can leave you vulnerable to more scams in the future. 

"Scammers may take your money, but it can take years to recover your identity. 

"With our growing reliance on the digital environment, it is important that consumers understand the risks and can spot warning signs."

Consumers can protect themselves from scams and identity theft scams with these simple steps: 

  • Do not provide personal information if you're unsure whether someone is legitimate. Even if they claim to be from the government or a trusted business.
  • Keep your personal information private
  • Do not send money or provide personal details to anyone you don't know
  • Lock your mailbox
  • Shred sensitive documents you no longer need
  • Check your credit report using a reputable credit reference bureau at least once a year - this can help you catch any unauthorised activity

Scams are often under-reported due to fear of retribution or humiliation, but it's important to protect yourself and seek help if you think you've been scammed. 

Visit the Scamwatch website for more information about reporting a scam or getting help.