Internet alert: Beware of cyber scammers

The internet is a very big place, with many pitfalls for the unwary – especially senior Australians.

According to a recent Consumer Affairs Victoria survey, about one in five older Victorians has fallen victim to a cyber scam.

Scams are schemes designed to deceive you, generally for the purpose of stealing your money or personal details and email is the major channel.

Many older Victorians are attractive targets for scammers because they often own substantial assets and have access to life savings and superannuation. Many are also looking for smart ways to invest their money or build their nest eggs.

The state government has combined with Crime Stoppers Victoria, the Council of the Ageing Victoria and the Public Libraries Victoria Network to help older Victorians identify and avoid online scams.

Education sessions are being held at various libraries across the state and help is also available online at www.consumer.vic.gov.au/resources-and-education/scams

You can even do the Scam Quiz to test how scam savvy you really are. Go to www.consumer.vic.gov.au/scamsavvy

Report a scam: Visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website and complete the dob-in-a-scam form or call the helpline on 1300 55 81 81.

How to avoid being scammed

  • Be wary of online sellers offering goods and well-known brands at extremely low prices.
  • When selling items online, do not follow the links in a payment notification email to check whether the payment has arrived – log into your account directly.
  • When dating online, do not send money to someone you have never met, even if you have spoken to them or received gifts from them.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails saying you have unclaimed funds or are owed money.
  • Do not let anyone pressure you into making quick investment or financial decisions.
  • Never send money or bank details to claim a prize.
  • If you get a call out of the blue from someone saying they need to access your computer to repair it, hang up – it may be a scam.