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Scams targeting older Australians

3 October 2017

Scammers are increasingly targeting older Australians due to their wealth and limited online experience. Over the last three years, Scamwatch has reported a steady rise in scams affecting Australians over the age of 55.

In recognition of International Older Person’s Day (October 1), we take a look at the most common cyber scams targeting older Australians.

Unexpected money

Older Australians are the most common victims of unexpected money scams. These include Nigerian scams, inheritance scams, reclaim money scams and advance fee scams. These scams often work by tricking you into giving your bank details to reclaim your money and often provide lots of seemingly legitimate documentation and information.

Once scammers have enough personal information and bank details, they can clean out your bank account.

Read more about unexpected money scams.

Investment scams

Investment scams produce the greatest losses. They are often very difficult to spot as they can have a professional website, a client portal, glossy documentation and will point to many satisfied customers.

These scams can play out over some time, as fake investments appear to grow. Many seasoned investors have been caught out by these scams as they are highly sophisticated and victims are pressured to make quick decisions.

If you are contacted about investment opportunities, make sure you carry out due diligence on the opportunity first. If unsure, seek independent professional financial advice.

Read more on investment scams.

Romance scams

Romance scams are often the most devastating and many older Australians are vulnerable. 

Scammers will scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long-term partner, taking advantage of their inexperience with these sites and their often vulnerable emotional state. After months of building trust with the victim, they may start making requests for money—often for a personal emergency.

Always be aware that someone you haven’t met in person may not be who they say they are. Trust your family or friends to help you make good decisions in regards to an online romance—they may be able to spot a fraud before you can.

Read more on romance scams.

Phishing scams and hacking

Phishing scams or direct hacking usually aim to steal your personal information. This information can be used to impersonate you (perhaps to cash out your superannuation fund) or to steal your money from your bank account. Often your details are sold on to other cybercriminals for further exploitation.

While these types of scams affect all age groups, Australians over 55 are the most common victims.

Remember to be careful about clicking on links sent by email, keep your software up to date and always use two-factor authentication where possible, especially on bank accounts.

Read more on phishing scams and hacking.

Remote access scams

Remote access scams try to convince you that your computer or internet has a problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem. Often the caller will begin in a very professional manner but become aggressive if you refuse to provide remote access. Australians over 65 are the most common victims of this type of scam.

Remember to never provide remote access to an unsolicited caller—even if you believe they are from your software provider.

Read more on remote access scams.

Do you think you have been scammed?

If you have been the victim of a scam, or suspect someone is trying to scam you, report it to ScamwatchScamwatch also offers advice on how to recover from a scam, including confirming the security of your accounts and identity.