The phone rings and a male voice on the other end of the line says he is from the Australian Taxation Office. He is polite and professional. Then he provides a phone number you can call to verify who he is. When you do that a recorded message informs you that you have called the ATO and asks you to wait in the queue until an operator is available.
This is a sophisticated scam that has unfortunately caught unsuspecting and innocent people who have parted with their money and never seen it again.
VMCH Grants and Bequest Officer, Sandra Rosano, says stories like this are recalled to her all too often when she visits people in her role.
She says many of them feel embarrassed when telling her these stories.
“I don’t think they need to be embarrassed, though, because it can happen to anyone. The important thing is that they speak up about it. That’s the best way to beat the scammers,” Sandra says.
The reality is scammers don’t care about age, race, gender or religion. They are opportunists and each new scam is more sophisticated than the last. It is challenging for anyone to keep up and stay ahead – not just older people enjoying their well-earnt retirement years. However, older people can feel vulnerable in a world that is changing rapidly.
“I think it makes people feel vulnerable and it makes them feel like they’re losing a bit of control and not being able to keep up with the modern world. No one is immune though. Scammers are getting cleverer and cleverer,” Sandra says.
TIPS TO SPOT A SCAM
1: Stay alert.
When an uninvited person comes to you with a request or proposal that sounds
suspect or too good to be true, it probably is. Common sense cannot be overemphasised
in these situations.
2: Do some research.
If an uninvited approach appears suspicious, it could be time to do some research.
If an individual gives you a phone number or email address to use, why not check it out
on the internet using a well-known search engine like Google.
3: Keep your personal details secure.
Place a lock on your mailbox, shred bills before throwing them out, be careful about
how much information you share on social media.
4: Learn more about scams.
The ACCC has excellent information and tips to spot a scam.
Follow the Scamwatch website to learn about how scams work and how to protect yourself and what to do if you’ve been scammed.
Follow Scamwatch on Twitter
@scamwatch_gov or https://twitter.com/Scamwatch_gov
You can report a scam to the ACCC via Scamwatch – www.scamwatch.gov.au
(Source: Little Black Book of Scams, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission)
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT VMCH
Sandra Rosano is VMCH’s Grant and Bequest Officer. She loves the opportunity to talk and meet with donors in the VMCH community.
If you want to learn more about how to support VMCH through a bequest or donation you can call her on 9926 2407.