Have you ever received a phone call, text message or email from someone you didn’t know who tried to sell you something, give you money or promise you the world. Most of us have. Sometimes the people contacting you are legitimate but most of the time you need to keep a good head on your shoulders in case it is a scam.
According to www.scamwatch.com.au, hosted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in 2020 Aussies lost more than $150 million to scams. That includes people aged 65-plus who have lost more than $32 million to scammers in at least 26,000 incidents. And that is just the incidents that are reported. Sadly, the true figures will be much higher.
Popular scams at the moment include fake text messages or email letters supposedly from government departments enticing you to click on a malicious link to COVID-19 information. Another around Christmas was fake parcel delivery scams claiming you have an undelivered package. Clicking on links or attachments jeopardises your privacy.
Older Australians may also be more susceptible to door-to-door and home maintenance scams. While many legitimate businesses sell things door-to-door, these scams generally involve promoting goods and services that are of poor quality, or are not delivered. Scammers may try and sell you gardening or roofing services, and then bill you for additional work that you did not agree to. Sometimes they may pretend to conduct a survey so they can get your personal details, or disguise their sales pitch until they have been talking to you for a while and earned your trust
Find information below on the types of scams you might come across, what to do if you are scammed and key things to help you avoid a scam.
COMMON SCAMS TARGETING OLDER AUSTRALIANS
** Inheritance scams: Offer the false promise of an inheritance to trick you into parting with your money or sharing your bank or credit card details. ** Rebate scams: Try to convince you that you are entitled to a rebate or reimbursement from the government, a bank or trusted organisation. ** Unexpected prize & lottery scams: Ask you to pay a fee in order to claim your prize or winnings from a competition or lottery you never entered. ** Dating & romance: Take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. ** Investment scams: Aim to get you to part with money on the promise of a questionable financial opportunity.
TIPS TO AVOID A SCAM
Often older Australians have more money and accumulated wealth than younger people, making them an attractive target for a scammer. Older Australians may also be seen by scammers as generally less internet and computer savvy or less familiar with new technology. But you can learn to protect yourself against scammers.
** Don’t be pressured into making a decision. Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency through short deadlines, fake emergencies or threats of legal action. ** Be suspicious of requests for money – even if they sound or look official. Government departments will never contact you asking for money upfront in order to claim a rebate. ** Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin. ** Do not open suspicious text messages, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails and text messages. Delete them instead. ** Don’t respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access. Hang up. Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus which will give them your passwords and personal details. ** Keep your personal details, mobile devices and computers secure. Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. ** Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organisation directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you. ** Don’t respond to phone calls or emails offering financial advice or opportunities – just hang up or delete the email. ** Always do your own research before you invest money and check the company or scheme is licensed on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED
Report a scam to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission by using its website www.scamwatch.gov.au You may be encouraged to include the details of the scam contact you received, eg, email or phone number.
If you have been threatened, assaulted or had your property stolen, contact your local police.
If you think you have provided personal details to a scammer contact your bank, financial institution or other relevant agencies immediately.
You can also contact iDcare – a free government-funded service which will help you . Visit the iDcare website at www.idcare.org or phone 1300 432 273.
Candy Page has loved Jubilee’s online creative writing course.
Jubilee’s first creative writing course proved a huge success and we are running more. Register now for the workshops, run by author and arts therapist Fiona Ware.
Fiona encourages participants to unleash their creativity and start writing about their lives – a powerful tool to acknowledge who we are, where we have come from and what we’ve learnt.
Previous participant Candy, who has one story from the course featured below, said she had been writing her memoirs for several years. “This has given me a new burst to get into that again,” Candy said. “Fiona as a teacher is so encouraging. She has given me some good guidance.”
A course for new participants will run online each Wednesday from April 7 to May 26. Existing participants can continue in a second course on Mondays from April 5 to May 24. You will need access to a computer/tablet and internet, but only basic computer knowledge is required. To register phone Vicki on 3871 3220.
Jubilee Community Care friend Candy, above, recently participated in Jubilee’s first online creative writing course. Here is one of her pieces from the course in which she was asked to be descriptive.
Sarah awoke early with the feeling that something was not right. She crossed to the large picture window which looked out onto the valley. She gazed at five acres of eucalypts – ironbarks, stringybarks, boxbarks, smoothbarks and bloodwoods. Some of the trees were so large that she could not see the bottoms of them and she could not see the tops of them. Usually, at this time of day, the sky was what she called Brisbane Blue, with little fluffy white clouds, and there was a breeze moving in the tops of the trees, causing a gentle rustle in the leaves. Magpies and kookaburras and noisy mynahs sang on the branches and the raucous crows joined in. But today … today was different. The sky was overcast, with dark thundery clouds. The leaves were silent and still. Later on she heard the wind howling, long and loud, sometimes very low and sometimes higher. It had not rained for weeks and she could smell the red, pungent all-pervading dust. There was an ominous feeling in the air. What could it be?
She waited and listened and looked. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she saw something small and red in the valley, and it seemed to be moving. In the next few seconds it grew and she recognised it – fire! It was moving slowly up the hill towards the houses, just nibbling at the dry leaf litter at the base of the trees and scorching the surrounding grass. Everything seemed slow – but was it the fire or herself who was slow? She was hypnotised by the flames and felt unable to move. Then her brain screamed at her “Do something!” Suddenly she realised how serious this was and she sprang into action – sprang, that is, as much as her tired eighty-year-old body would
The first thing was to alert her daughter. A quick text message was all it took, and her Anna phoned. “Quick, Mum, remember our fire plan. I’ve sent the children out already, and they are running up the driveway to the street. I’ve rung the fire brigade and Paul is reeling out the hose in case he needs to start fighting the fire alone.” Her voice became more urgent: “Mum, you’ve got to get up the driveway. Use your walker – and hurry Mum, hurry up!”
Sarah had always said that in case of a fire, the young, fit and able-bodied should go first and not be held up by the aged and infirm. She knew that she could not out-run the fire. The drive was too steep and her walker too heavy. But she was determined to try. She would not wait for the fire to reach her.
She set off up the drive. In her mind she commended herself to God and asked that, should the worst happen, she would be received into Heaven. Her chest was tight from the exertion of walking uphill. Her throat burned from the smoke she could not help breathing in. She remembered her grand daughter’s fire slogan from school: Get low and go, go, go! She would never be able to do that. No, she must just keep putting one slow foot in front to the other, until she could go no further.
It was at that very moment that the fire brigade turned into the driveway. Two strong firemen lifted her up and carried her to join the children. Another ran on ahead with her walker. “Now” ordered one fireman “You must all remain here until I give the all clear. You children, you look after your granny.” And with that, he joined the rest of the fire crew, who were assessing the situation in the valley.
Sarah gave a brief hug to each of her four grandchildren, then gathered the littlest girl onto her lap. “What shall we do while we wait, children?” she asked. “Pray” replied the oldest. The little one, who has only ever prayed out loud to say grace before meals, piped up “Dear God, thank you for our food and please stop the corona virus”. The other three burst into laughter – warm, affectionate laughter for their much-loved little sister. “Well,” suggested Sarah “what about practising your songs for the church Christmas musical?” So they spent the next half hour singing Christmas songs until the fire chief re-appeared. “All clear, all clear” he called from the bottom of the driveway. You can come back down now. But you wait up there grandma, and we’ll bring you down in a car.”
When she reached the house, Sarah went downstairs to see Anna. “What happened?” she asked. Anna replied “Apparently there was a change in the wind direction and the fire turned back on itself. There being nothing left to burn, it just fizzled out. The firemen wetted down the whole area just to make sure it wouldn’t re-ignite, and we’re all safe and sound, thanks be to God.”
“Thanks be to God” Sarah murmured to herself as she headed back to her house. All it would need would be a good airing and then the fire would be no more than a memory.
Did you know Jubilee Community Care has a Facebook page? It has a wealth of
information about topics of interest to seniors, about Jubilee and its staff, local
history and some funny and heartwarming posts just to bring a smile to your face.
Check it out today. Visit www.facebook.com and search for @jubileeagedcare
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The hot summer days and nights are continuing, and police are reminding seniors to be vigilant in securing their homes and vehicles. Queensland Police Inner West Crime Prevention Unit Acting Sergeant Paul Bagnall said taking some key steps could protect you from thieves.
Acting Sgt Bagnall, based at Indooroopilly Station, said it was vital to ensure security screens and doors were locked if windows and doors were left open for ventilation. Locking up and removing keys from internal doors and windows when you are not at home was also essential, he said. Other tips from Acting Sgt Bagnall include:
** Securing your vehicle at all times. Valuable items should be taken with you or locked in the car glove box or boot out of sight. ** If you need to leave a door or window open for ventilation, consider installing a security screen. ** If in a multi-story residence, don’t leave ground floor windows or doors open or unlocked. ** Keep car and house keys and other valuables out of sight and away from windows and doors. ** If you’re in the garden, make sure windows and doors at the front of the property are secure. ** Ensure that any side entrance is secure, locked and not easy to climb over, even when someone is at home. ** Consider installing a visible security light or alarm to deter criminals. ** Going on holiday? Make arrangements to make sure the house appears occupied even though you are not there. Put lights on a timer or ask a neighbour to come and pick up mail and draw curtains.
The Inner West Crime Prevention Unit offers free home security audits if you are concerned about your security. For more information or to book an audit phone 3377 9405 or 3377 9421.