Scammers impersonating financial services employees, government assistance, insurance or fundraisers are likely to come out of the woodwork now that the floodwaters have subsided.
Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) members are reporting increases in flood-related financial crime in NSW and Queensland, with vulnerable customers being specifically targeted.
COBA is urging flood-affected residents to be on their guard over scammers to be on the lookout for scammers preying on distressed individuals and leveraging interruptions to telecommunications.
Leanne Vale, Director of Services and Financial Crimes for COBA, said scammers targeting Australians have become sophisticated at impersonating organisations and manipulating emotions, particularly around natural disasters.
"Unfortunately, Australia has experienced a significant number of catastrophic natural disasters in recent years, and scammers are increasingly targeting impacted individuals with fraudulent transactions while technology is down and people have decreased visibility of their finances," Vale explained.
"The insurance activity that will take place now and over the coming months is also a rich environment for scammers, who will use pose as insurers and intercept cash payments through email and SMS.
"Following disaster events, scammers can impersonate government support services and attempt to divert fundraising for victims. People should be very alert to unsolicited contact."
Most scams require certain personal information from victims, and a scammer will likely ask for bank account details, credit card numbers, PINs, or passwords. They may also ask an individual to download software or click on a link.
"If you are in any doubt about the validity of a request, do not engage any further," Vale said. "If someone claims to represent a financial institution, hang up the phone and call their hotline yourself. Until then, don't share anything that's personal to you.
"It's important to remember that banks or insurers will never proactively phone or send text messages to initiate financial assistance."
A former Australian Federal Police officer, Ms Vale is a leading expert on fraud and financial crimes with over three decades of experience. Her advice:
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