Latest COVID-19 scam

John Deeks: Here on Mind Your Own Retirement with me, John Deeks, we’re joined by IT specialist Drew Patchell. In fact, the IT specialist from YourLifeChoices. Drew, we don’t get you in often enough.

John Deeks: If there’s one thing that makes my blood boil, really gets my blood boiling, that’s IT scams and boy aren’t there a lot of them around?

Drew Patchell: Very much at the moment. People trying to take advantage of those less fortunate and really struggling in a tough time with COVID-19 affecting Australia.

John Deeks: Yeah. And, people who take advantage of anybody is always a terrible thing. But tell me specifically about this one that relates to the COVID-19.

Drew Patchell: Well, there’s a few going around at the moment. The main one is the superannuation scam. So, obviously at the moment there’s a lot of news out there about, you know, accessing your superannuation early and the scammers have jumped on this essentially.

John Deeks: Obviously, they’re trying to get your money, but how are they trying to do it?

Drew Patchell: They’re cold calling people right now. Trying to realistically say they’re from an organisation such as, you know, they’ll make up organisation name and say they’re trying to help you out, trying to get you early access to your superannuation funds. Trying to talk about items that aren’t actually real, like access to a $10,000 superannuation bonus, various other scams that they’re just really making information up.

John Deeks: So, out of every, you know, 10,000 people that might get two or three. How then do they actually access your dosh?

Drew Patchell: So, realistically for the scammers, they’re trying to get two things off you. The first thing they’re trying to get off you is just your information in general. So, they’re trying to get your phone number, your email address, trying to get access to your accounts to see what you’ve got there. Access to your bank accounts as well. So, they’re not just going for your superannuation fund, they’re also going for your bank account.

John Deeks: Because that’s what they’d really trying to get to, isn’t it?

Drew Patchell: Exactly.

John Deeks: So, is it like this, you know, a prince in Nigeria who I keep sending money to?

Drew Patchell: Ah, I think he died a while ago.

John Deeks: Did he?

Drew Patchell: Unfortunately, he’s been around for at least 20 years.

John Deeks: I’m waiting for my $20 million cheque. It hasn’t arrived yet, but seriously. So how do they [people] protect themselves?

Drew Patchell: There are various methods to go through. First of all, never give your information over the phone to someone who has called you. That is rule number one. Always ask for a number and ask to call them back. Ah, at that stage, you should then go online. Google that phone number and see what it comes back to. If it comes back to, for example, they’re claiming they’re coming from Westpac and it comes back to the Westpac phone-in hotline, then you can call that number and try and talk to someone about it, because it is actually the Westpac hotline number. Whereas they may give you a number that does not come back to that company, and then you should be extremely reserved.

John Deeks: Totally. So, is a lot of this happening on the web itself or can people, are people likely to try and attack your computer with this information or trying to source information, or was it mainly phones?

Drew Patchell: At the moment it’s mainly phone and email scams. So, they’ll try and cold call you, they’ll send you SMS alerts your phone.

John Deeks: It’s like that one where you know that we from the taxation department, send us this money or we’ll send you to jail.

Drew Patchell: Exactly. They come in with a threat. So, for example, right now, there’s a few threats going around with superannuation. One key one they’re trying to say is if you do not merge your superannuation accounts, you will have your accounts locked to any money. So, this is more targeting people who are currently in retirement and accessing their superannuation funds. And they’re trying to scare them into the fact that they won’t be able to access it.

John Deeks: And that, of course, is the key word, fear. They’re trying to scare people.

Drew Patchell: Very much.

John Deeks: And, of course, at our age, not yours, but my age, you know, superannuation is vitally important.

Drew Patchell: Just as an example of a few questions that some of the scammers have been asking via phone: Have you been working full time for the last five years? Are you going to apply for the $10,000 superannuation package? Which is actually not a thing, but they essentially draw you in to ask what it’s about, and then gain information from you for asking that. And we’ll be merging your superannuation accounts to prevent mandatory locking of your accounts.

John Deeks: So, they’re giving all the kind of sounds of being an official representative.

Drew Patchell: Exactly.

John Deeks: But, in fact, they’re just trying to sort of soften you up for the kettle punch. Give us your details of your bank account or whatever.

Drew Patchell: Curiosity killed the cat, and that’s what they’re going for here.

John Deeks: All right. Bottom line be careful, don’t give your information out, hang up on them, or at least get their phone number, ‘I will call you back’ – if they don’t want to do that, you know, alert, alert.

Drew Patchell: Yeah. At the end of the day, you will get calls from your bank. You will get calls from the government, you will get calls from services Australia, also known as Centrelink. But with every one of those calls, you’ll never be asked to give deep personal information.

John Deeks: While I’ve got you here, over the course of this particular podcast, we’ve been speaking to some health professionals about telehealth. What else can you see IT wise changing in light of the COVID-19 as we move forward?

Drew Patchell: I mean, I think we’ve already seen quite a few changes because of COVID-19 – the way we’re shopping is changing, there is a higher demand for delivery of food, delivery of groceries. It’s just been essential.

John Deeks: I just asked my postie the other day, who was coming to the local post office and he had all these boxes. I said, ‘You really are busy.’ He said, ‘It’s like Christmas every day.’

Drew Patchell: Yeah.

John Deeks: The amount of parcels they are delivering, no letters, but lots of parcels.

Drew Patchell: I think businesses around Australia are having to adapt and change as well. No-one’s going to the high street anymore to go shopping. You’re looking online.

John Deeks: Well, you know, I’m working online. So, it could be the way of the future for a lot of businesses. They’re saying, why are we paying the rents when in fact our teams could … so do you think there’d be more of that – people working from home?

Drew Patchell: Yes and no. There will be some companies who adapt and say, this is more efficient for us. Our employees are feeling healthier, feeling better about themselves, not having an hour commute into work every day. I mean if it frees up the roads, if it helps a transport system, if we’re polluting less by not having to travel in a car by ourselves every day. It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

John Deeks: True. Thank you so much. I’d like to see you in here more often, fellow, ’cause there’s always lots of things you want to talk about with IT.

Drew Patchell: There’s always a lot happening.

John Deeks: Next time I get you in, I’d like to talk about how we can learn to use our computers better ’cause a lot of our members would like to have that kind of information.

Drew Patchell: Book it in.

John Deeks: Drew Patchell, thank you so much indeed.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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