If you are like most people, it is likely that barely a day goes by without you receiving an email from an African Prince or a dinner time phone call from someone telling you to urgently fix your computer. Attacks from scammers from all parts of the world are commonplace and becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect.

ASIC data suggests that they received 177,516 reports of scams in 2018. These reported scams cost everyday Australians over $107 million. But the real cost is much greater, as for every fraud reported, there are others that go unreported.

Be on the lookout

The majority of the approaches from scammers come over the phone (46.9%) and via email (23.2%). So, it is important to know what to look for.

  • Phishing scams – this is an attempt by scammers to trick you into giving out personal details, such as account details, credit card numbers and passwords. This might be a phone call or an email. Remember, any organisation you are dealing with should already have your details.
  • Unexpected money – scammers will often entice their victims with the lure of a windfall. It is highly improbable you won that Swiss Lottery that you never entered. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it is!
  • Fake charities or investment opportunities – if people ring you up, email you or knock on your door asking for money – ignore them. If there is a charity you want to give to, then you should contact them to arrange a donation. Investment scams accounted for almost 40% of the losses that were reported in 2018. If there is an investment opportunity you are considering, talk to your Elston adviser. And remember, no investment offers both high returns and low risk.
  • Hacking – criminals spend millions developing software to get into our computers and mobile devices in an attempt to steal our information. If you receive an email with a suspicious attachment, delete it. If you get a phonecall from ‘out of the blue’ that just doesn’t sit right with you, tell the caller you will look up their organisation’s number and call them back.
  • Email hacking – one that we see affecting our clients regularly is email hacking. Once a criminal has your email password, they will send legitimate emails to all your contacts looking to rip them off. As your advisers, the criminals will email us looking to withdraw funds. Always use a unique and complex password, and never log in on shared computers or public wi-fi.

Elston is extra vigilant

As financial advisers who look after approximately $2 billion of client monies, Elston is often the target of scams. In particular, we need to be vigilant for criminals impersonating our clients. Any email or written request to transfer a client’s funds needs to be separately verified over the phone or in person by an Elston adviser. We also prefer to pay any cash transfers into a verified bank account in the name of our clients.

Payment into a third-party account (ie. one not in the name of our client) can only be done where we have received verification in writing of the account details, accompanied by a signed request from our client. These requests also need to be verified directly with the client.

Internally, any cash transfer on behalf of a client will go through a process of cross-checks that means that any transfer has had at least 4 sets of eyes review and verify the transfer. We take the protection of client funds very seriously. Sometimes it might mean a frustrating amount of red tape time-consuming procedures, but this insistence on verification is vital. It is the only way to be 100% sure your money is being protected from scammers.

It is important that you also take the same amount of care at home, so you don’t become the next statistic. If you want to learn more, speaking to your adviser or visiting the ACCC Scamwatch website is a good place to start.

If you’d like to get in touch with one of our advisers you can contact us at 1300 ELSTON or email info@elston.com.au and an adviser will be in touch.