Are you being scammed?
WE'VE all been offered millions online from a Nigerian Prince, but there are scams that are so elaborate that it may be difficult for many to determine whether they are genuine or fake.
Residents should be wary as just this week, a Coffs Harbour resident received a scam letter from a fake business called 'Online Business Registration Pty Ltd' based in Victoria.
The scam letter targets small business owners and advises them to renew their business name through their website, which has been designed to look genuine, using a credit card for payment.
More than $8 million has been lost through scams around Australia just in September according to the Government's ScamWatch.
Just this year, a number of high-profile scams have been stealing millions, including scammers pretending to be from NBN and scammers asking for payment through iTunes gift cards.
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
Earlier this month ACCC Despute Chair Delia Rickard outlined some simple techniques members of the public can use to avoid being stung by a scammer online.
"While scammers are often after your money, they're also trying to steal your personal information, which is just as valuable. It's important to safeguard your personal details online the same way you would your wallet,” Ms Rickard said.
"If you're ever contacted out of the blue, particularly via email, by someone asking you to pay a bill, complete a survey or update your passwords, it pays to be sceptical. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
"If you're unsure about the legitimacy of something online like a store, classified listing or email you receive, do you own research as others who have been stung by scammers will often post warnings for others.”
Scams are constant and evolving everyday, but to become scam-savvy here's what you should look out for, according to Scam Watch.
1. Offers of money, asking in return for your personal information or upfront payment.
2. A 'win' from a competition or lottery you never entered.
3. Fake charities asking for donations.
4. Online dating site scammers who play on emotions to elicit money.
5. Illegitimate transactions between online 'consumers' or 'businesses' (e.g. classifieds scams, false billing).
6. Jobs and investment scams offering fake money-making opportunities.
7. Threats and extortions from scammers trying to steal your identity or money, who often hijack computers.
Have you been contacted by a scammer, or have even been a victim of a scam yourself and want to get the word out there? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jasmine.Minhas@coffscoastadvocate.com.au.
To keep find out more about scams, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au.