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Stay safe out there

We look at the new online and real-world threats and how to combat them; plus some general tips for safety in a world where things are changing fast.

It is a sad fact of life that scammers tend to target the elderly. As we get older we are seen as more vulnerable, less able to deal with technology and sometimes we can get out of the loop in terms of government processes and banking innovations. This is where the scammers work. Older Australians are also sitting on a lot more cash than younger people, and scammers want you to part with it.

They might try to get you to give up your banking password, they might want to get into your email, or just give over your credit card details so they can steal some cash.

Scammers are getting better at what they do, so you need to stay abreast of the latest scams. Here are a few to watch out for:


These are like they sound: a robotic, recorded voice trying to get you to take action. They usually revolve around suggesting that your internet or telephone needs paying and that it is going to get cut off. You are then asked to return the call to take action. Most of these are scams. Generally, if there is something seriously wrong with your internet or phone, gas or electricity, you will get a call from a real person, who can then confirm a few details so you know they are for real.

Australian Tax Office

Scam artists love to use big scary names like the ATO. One of the newer scams is to get a call – sometimes robocalls, other times not – telling you that the Australian Tax Office is out to get you. It is a scary thought, but the ATO does not target taxpayers in this way. If you are pretty sure you are up to date, or not needing to pay tax at all, don’t worry about these calls.

Home care scam

Another new scam is to try to trick seniors who are seeking home care. Callers will offer seniors special “vouchers” for home care services promising huge savings. The trick is they want you to pay upfront and will ask for your banking or credit card details. The bigger trick is that there are no home care services; it is just a scam. You should be wary of any business calling you and asking you to pay for things upfront – it is most likely a bad idea.

Shut the front door

Door-to-door scams have not gone away and you may still get someone showing up at your house offering home maintenance or gardening. While charities may door knock from time to time, these scammers have no ID and no intention of doing any work. Use only professionals that have the right accreditation and do not use people who solicit their services to you. Find the right person for the job and do not be pressured by unwanted visitors.

Stay safe

In general when it comes to protecting yourself from scams:

  • Make sure the caller/visitor is legitimate. An easy way is to ask them to provide YOU with your account details like name and address. If they are really from your bank, they know where you live.
  • Never give up passwords or bank details. No honest company asks you to part with these over the phone.
  • Call them back. If you are suspicious about a caller claiming to be from your bank or electricity service but think their might be a problem, simply hang up and call the official number on the bank website or your account statement.