26 September 2023

Seniors urged to be vigilant against scams

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NSW Seniors are being urged to stay vigilant against scams, as the total cost swindled from older Australian consumers skyrocketed to over $11 million last year.

Leading the call for vigilance, Minister for Fair Trading, Eleni Petinos said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received 16,915 reports in 2021 from seniors who had been scammed.

Ms Petinos said $6.7 million had been lost through false billing scams, where scammers requested payment through fake invoices for goods or services which were never ordered.

“In one case, a consumer lost $760,000 when their mortgage broker’s email had been compromised,” Ms Petinos said.

She said any scammers targeting older Australians would be met with the full force of the law.

“Targeting vulnerable Australians is abhorrent behaviour. Fair Trading has a zero-tolerance approach to any fraudsters ripping off hard-working people,” the Minister said.

“Be wary of any requests for money,” she said.

“Another red flag is being asked to transfer money via an unusual payment method such as preloaded debit cards, gift cards or virtual currency.”

Ms Petinos said online shopping scams had cost Australian seniors $1.8 million last year, “a common example of this is the purchase of a motor home online via fake websites.”

Minister for Seniors, Mark Coure said it was disgusting to see criminals deliberately target society’s older people.

“Seniors deserve better than to be preyed on by low-life criminals and defrauded of their life savings,” Mr Coure said.

“Older people have worked their whole lives to make NSW the great state it is today. Anyone taking advantage of seniors should have the book thrown at them,” he said.

Ms Petinos said NSW Fair Trading had a guide available for seniors with up-to-date information about their consumer rights and how to deal with unscrupulous operators.

Fair Trading’s Seniors guide can be accessed at this PS News link.

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