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Latest Scam Alert: Scammers follow flood-impacted communities

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Published on March 25 2021

We are urging our flood-impacted Members to be on the lookout for scammers posing as Government employees, insurers or charity groups working hard to restore impacted communities. Scammers can easily take advantage of the rapid pace and trauma of natural disasters in a time of uncertainty by impersonating organisations and manipulating emotions. Hearing about bushfires, floods, cyclones or earthquakes can motivate us to give, but for scammers it’s an opportunity to take.

Insurance claims on the rise

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, over 5,000 insurance claims were lodged over the weekend, with insurers aiming to speed up the processing of claims for flood-impacted policyholders.

“Brazen scammers will not hesitate to pose as policyholders and intercept cash payments through fraudulent emails and SMS."

“With this natural disaster impacting densely populated areas in NSW and Queensland, we may well see a higher number of insurance claims and requests for government assistance than the 2020 bushfires."

“Scammers will closely follow this disaster and target payments that are essential to recovery, whether funding temporary accommodation, replacing essential items, or rebuilding homes.”

Deceitful tactics scammers use

Following the bushfires from 2019, a fraudulent SMS declared: “Centrelink has processed your Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment. Payment will be made to your account within 48 hours”.

This was followed by texts and phone calls informing that government payments had been made in error with instructions and required to return the money. People were also asked for their personal information including their bank account numbers.

As a result, bank accounts were emptied of funds and identities were stolen within a few minutes, paving the way for even more crimes. Scammers can easily create fake government department icons, brands and imitating email and SMS. It’s vital to remember that government departments will never randomly phone or send text messages for a benefit claim.

Protect yourself by following the advice below

If you believe you have received a phone call of this nature and have given your personal information to the suspicious caller, please let us know IMMEDIATELY on 13 24 40.

Source: Customer Owned Banking Association

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