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6 Dec, 2013

Australian Police, Banks release tips to safeguard against festive season scams, frauds


December 05 2013, Australian Bankers Association / Australian Federal Police Joint media release – With Christmas shopping lists being made and holidays with friends and families being planned, banks and police are providing some security tips so that fraudsters don’t spoil your festive season.

More and more consumers are shopping online because it’s convenient, provides a lot of choice and it’s easy to compare prices. Online sales were equivalent to 6.4% of traditional retail spending (for the year to September), up from 5.6% for the same time last year.

Banks and police are encouraging us to take extra precautions, so we can better protect ourselves online and avoid being defrauded by scams.

Online shopping

Every year, more and more people turn to the Internet to find bargains and to fulfil their shopping lists.

Steven Munchenberg, Chief Executive of the ABA, said: “More and more people this holiday season will be looking to save money and take advantage of good deals with the convenient access to shop online from your computer, tablet and smartphone.”

Unfortunately, this is the time of year when criminals see opportunities to defraud. Banks’ security systems will be working hard to protect their customers’ information and accounts. By working together we can reduce fraud risks.”

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) urges consumers to remain alert this festive season, particularly when shopping online.

AFP Acting National Manager High Tech Crime Operations Glen McEwen said that while online shopping may save consumers time and money, there is also a high level of risk associated.

“Consumers need to make sure they safeguard their personal and financial information in the same way they would at a physical store,” Acting Assistant Commissioner McEwen said. “It’s important for consumers to remain vigilant and put a number of security measures in place, to avoid disappointment and stress when criminals intervene and goods are not received.”

Mr Munchenberg added: “Think before providing your personal information to anyone or any company. Don’t offer your personal information on the phone or online unless you know who you’re dealing with. For example, if a company contacts you with a deal – type the company name into the web browser, go to the website and contact them through customer service. Contact the company and ask if they really sent through the offer.”

“Banks’ computer systems will be monitoring and detecting suspicious transactions, sometimes even before a customer may notice anything odd on their account. If banks suspect that your card has been stolen or the account has been compromised, then they will take action to protect accounts.” Banks and police said consumers should take steps to increase their safety, security and confidence online with these simple tips:

  • All devices that you use for shopping should have up-to-date security software such as firewalls and anti-virus;
  • Guard your identity information carefully and only provide to trusted people and entities – such as your date of birth, current address, driver’s licence number and passport details. Be suspicious if someone asks for a host of personal details soon after contacting you;
  • Delete spam and scam e-mail. Be cautious about unsolicited offers or opportunities offering you the chance of making easy money – if the message is promising something that’s too good to be true, then it probably is!
  • Don’t provide your PIN or Internet banking login or password to anyone – this information must remain confidential;
  • Always logon to Internet banking by typing in your bank’s full web address, i.e. the URL or use the banking app provided by your bank;
  • Don’t use public computers for Internet banking, for example, in Internet cafes, libraries or hotels;
  • Be wary of offers from people or companies overseas as it makes it harder to check if they are bona fide.
  • Take steps to verify any company or retail website – for example, address, phone number, e-mail address and website. You could check if it is a registered company in Australia;
  • Be wary of a person asking for financial assistance – be aware if you send money by wire transfer these funds cannot be recovered by banks;
  • Be cautious of someone asking for details of your financial status – do not provide the information; and
  • Tell banks of your travel plans if you are heading inter-state or overseas and provide up-to-date contact numbers so banks can call you quickly if staff suspect fraud on your account.


Shoppers should be alert to scams and other attempts to lure them into providing personal and financial information that could lead to data and financial losses or even infection of your computer or mobile device.

Acting Assistant Commissioner McEwen said criminals will take any opportunity to exploit vulnerable consumers.

“Consumers are being targeted by scammers who are at the top of their game, often appearing to be ‘real’ people with ‘real’ causes. It’s important for consumers to be aware that criminals will manipulate and abuse trust in the online space,” he said.

“By making yourself aware of the types of scams that are around, you can mitigate the risk of financial loss and hardship,” Acting Assistant Commissioner McEwen said. “Any incident of this nature should be reported to local state or territory police in the first instance.”

Some scams to be aware of include social media scams where criminals exploit social networks to obtain information or lure people into sending money with an offer that’s too good to be true or a plea for assistance. Be careful about clicking and sharing your personal information – always think before you act.

Hoax emails and phone calls which appear to be from your bank or other business are designed to trick you into providing PIN, online banking logons and other personal information which should remain confidential. If you have responded, contact your bank immediately so they can take action to protect your account. Hang up on scam calls and delete all spam/scam email.

Employment scams can take the form of advertisements posted online promising quick commissions for transferring money elsewhere. These criminals are aiming to recruit ‘money mules’ to launder money which may be the proceeds of crime. Although the offer may seem attractive, any commission payments can be recovered and you could become involved in a police investigation and prosecuted.

Romance scams exploit singles who are asked to transfer or send money while holding out the promise of a relationship.

“It’s imperative that people using social networking and dating sites utilise available security settings to the full extent. This includes safeguarding personal information such as date of birth and photos or images of themselves,” Acting Assistant Commissioner McEwen said.

“When it comes to online romance, people need to be aware that the person they are talking to in the online world may not necessarily be the same in the real world.”