Older Australians seeking investment opportunities to grow their retirement or looking for love online must be vigilant to avoid falling victim to scammers, experts have warned.
The recently released Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams Report found investment scams and dating and romance scams accounted for half of the money reported lost by people over 55 last year.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said there are many other scams that affect older members of the community but romance and investment scams resulted in the largest financial losses.
Overall, the report found a $3 million increase in scam losses reported to the ACCC on the previous year, as well as a 15 per cent increase in complaints.
Rickard said the ACCC is encouraging older Australians in particular to wise up and watch out for scams that target them.
The call was echoed by COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates, who said the body regularly hears heartbreaking stories of scams that have targeted older Australians and unfortunately hit their mark.
COTA said older people can protect themselves against scammers by remembering the following:
- 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.
COTA also advised those who have 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,” Yates added.Do you have an idea for a story?
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