WARNING: Elderly residents are being warned to stay wary on the phone, after a spate of recent scam calls.
WARNING: Elderly residents are being warned to stay wary on the phone, after a spate of recent scam calls.

How to tell if you’re being targeted by a scammer

As soon as the call came through, Marilyn Ayton had suspicions - it just didn't seem right.

Her gut-feeling was proved correct when an automated voice claimed to be from the Australian Taxation Office - demanding payment on a debt.

"It made me a bit wary because of all the things that I've heard regarding elderly people that are getting hit by these people," Ms Ayton said.

The disability pensioner from Lowood is working to remind locals, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, to be wary of unsolicited phone calls.

The automated voice on the end of the line had told her she had a debt owing to the Australian Taxation Office, and if she did not engage with the callers - she would end up in court.

Out of curiosity, she connected.

When the woman who answered seemed unaware of the reason for the call and demanded Ms Ayton's name and personal details, her suspicions were confirmed.

"I said 'well, you called me you should know who you're calling' and then she hung up," she said.

ScamWatch statistics on reported scams, April 2020.
ScamWatch statistics on reported scams, April 2020.

Ms Ayton is one of thousands of Australians targeted by scams every month and while she was able to determine what was occurring, she's worried other might not.

"There's a lot of scams out there and they keep targeting these older people and vulnerable people," she said.

"If I can help one person to not get ripped off by these scammers, I'll be very happy."

In April, the ACCC's Scamwatch program received more that 17000 reports of scams, with Australians losing an estimated $16.4 million.

But this number is likely much higher, with many unaware or unwilling to report the scams.

The best advice for handling phone calls is to always be wary the caller could be a scam artist.

If you're unsure of the legitimacy of the call, hang up and directly contact the business or organisation the person claims to be from.

You can report a scam to the ACCC via https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam


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