An online romance could break not only your heart but also your wallet, as romance and investment scams are now among the most costly types of scams to hit South Australia.
Business Services and Consumers Minister Gail Gago said Scamwatch – launched last week by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – has all the latest news and advice to help consumers identify and avoid scams.
“Nationally, $45 million was reported lost to scams already this year and 45,000 complaints made.
“In South Australia, $3.3 million was lost to scams during 2014, with investment and dating/romance scams losing more than $800,000 each.
“With continuous advancements in technology, scammers are becoming very sophisticated with their attempts to steal money or personal details.
“Scammers invent convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about offers of money, so we are urging people to please think twice before getting involved in financial deals.
“Now, for the first time, the ACCC is publishing data on common scams that are causing the most damage across the country.
“The new Scamwatch website will be updated monthly.
“The website enables consumers to report a scam online while providing information about steps that can be taken straight away to reduce the damage and prevent further loss if a person believes they have been scammed.
“Scammers also take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They can play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.”
A few tips to protect yourself include:
- Keep personal details and passwords secure;
- Never send money, credit card details, or financial documents to anyone you don’t know;
- Be wary when using discount offers or when shopping online; only use sites you know and trust;
- Do not open suspicious texts, emails, or pop-up windows; delete them!
“Anyone can be a target for scams, no matter where you live, your background, age or income. “Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” Ms Gago said.
Consumers can stay up-to-date on the latest scams by signing up to receive Scamwatch radar alerts. Visit the new website at www.scamwatch.gov.au for more information.