How older Australians can fight back against scammers

Older Australians are increasingly at risk of falling victims to scams.

According to data from Scamwatch, Australians lost more than $1.4 million to NBN-related scams between January and September last year, which was a huge jump from 2020 when total annual losses to NBN-related scams reached just over $1 million.

People over the age of 65 are often the most vulnerable to scams and in 2021 the highest number of reports and losses from NBN-impersonation scams came from this age group.

Read: Government warning on cyber scammers

To deal with this issue, the NBN has launched the ‘ScamFit’ program as part of a mission to arm 10,000 older Australians with the skills and education needed to fight back against scammers.

The program will arm Aussies with practical tips and techniques on how to avoid falling victim to scams and raise awareness about the steps to take if they suspect they have been contacted by a scammer.

Losses to NBN impersonation scams are primarily due to ‘remote access scams’, one of the largest growing scam types in Australia.

In a remote access scam, a scammer will call and request access to a victim’s devices in order to transfer money, often without their knowledge.  

Read: Federal government announces changes to combat scam texts

Recent reports of NBN-related remote access scams show many scammers are using a ‘hacking’ scenario to take advantage of their victims.

In this scenario, a scammer will contact their victim claiming that their computer has been accessed by hackers and ask for remote access to the computer in order to stop the hackers.

The NBN’s chief security officer, Darren Kane, said older Australians needed to be particularly wary of NBN impersonation scams.

Read: Why Aussies fall for scams so easily

“Scams impact Australians of all ages, but older Australians can often be scammers’ primary targets,” Mr Kane said. “These scammers are smart – they know what to say to sound convincing over the phone, and they can create a sense of urgency or confusion to put their victim off-kilter.

“When cornered by a scammer, many older Australians may not know how to shut down the conversation or avoid being tricked into making a mistake.

“Technology makes our lives much easier in so many ways, but it’s also important to understand what to be mindful of, and these (ScamFit) sessions cover all the basics to help the community stay safe.”

The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association’s spokesperson, Nan Bosler, welcomed the NBN’s commitment to the mission to protect older Aussies online and encouraged them to get involved in the events.

“People often underestimate older Australians, especially when it comes to technology,” she said. “But given the right skills and training there’s no reason older Australians can’t arm ourselves against scammers – and maybe even help teach younger Aussies a thing or two about getting ScamFit.”

Top ScamFit tips

  • Visit NBN’s website at www.nbn.com.au/scamadvice for information on how to identify and avoid potential scammers or for advice if you suspect you have been scammed.  
  • Remember NBN will never call and ask to access your computer or advise that you are going to be disconnected. NBN is a wholesaler, which means it does not sell phone or internet services directly to the public. People need to contact their preferred phone and internet provider in order to make the switch.  
  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer or devices via the installation of programs, such as Team Viewer.  
  • NBN does not make automated calls, such as robocalls, to advise of disconnections to NBN or existing copper phone line services. Do not engage with these calls.
  • Do not share your financial information (i.e. bank, credit card or gift card details) or personal details with an unsolicited caller or door knockers trying to seek payment for a service over the NBN network.  
  • If in doubt, hang up and call your retail service provider on their official customer service centre number to check if the call is legitimate. Do not use contact details supplied by the caller.

Do you consider yourself ScamFit? Have you ever dealt with an NBN impersonator? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Ben

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