Scammers using RBA rate rise as bait, experts warn

The recently announced interest rate rise has provided new opportunities for scammers to fleece unsuspecting victims.

The Reserve Bank of Australia last week lifted the official interest rate to 0.35 per cent, the first increase in more than a decade.

The rate will affect mortgage repayments, inflation and overall consumer spending. It’s not uncommon at a time like this to receive all sorts of communications from banks and other financial institutions.

But this has opened the door for scammers posing as legitimate businesses.

Read: How to avoid online vehicle scams

Alex Cherniakov, a consultant at ID verification software developer GBG, told Nestegg scammers will be using this time to target vulnerable consumers through fake ads and also people who are expecting some kind of change to their financial situation.

Email, text message and phone scams are expected to steadily increase between now and the end of the financial year, says Mr Cherniakov.

“As more banks and financial institutions communicate changes related to the cost of servicing and interest rates in the coming weeks, scammers around the world will be looking to take advantage of this by impersonating banks, encouraging consumers to click on malicious links, and convincing consumers to share personal and banking information,” he says.

“Make sure you are only sharing information with trusted parties, never interact with a text, email, or unsolicited phone call.”

Read: Expert advice on scams and what to look out for this year

Mr Cherniakov is asking consumers to be cautious when approached by financial institutions about loans and mortgages. If an email or text from your bank is asking you to provide personal information, call the bank directly to confirm if the request is legitimate.

“If you’ve received an unsolicited call asking for personal information, hang up the phone and call the bank directly,” he says.

The Big Four banks: ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB, all have dedicated sites listing the latest scams using their name.

Read: How to talk to older people about financial scams

According to Scamwatch, Australians aged 65 and over lost around $20 million to scammers in the first three months of this year. In 2021, this same age group lost just over $80 million, with the 55-64 age group parting with just under $60 million.

“We use technology all the time now, and many people think they are too savvy to be impacted by a scam,” says Ben Young, head of Westpac’s fraud department.

“Being scammed doesn’t mean you’re gullible, it’s just so prevalent now.

“Scammers utilise many created schemes of deception, so it’s vital to maintain a healthy level of suspicion about anyone who is asking you for money or your personal details.”

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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