Flooded Streets and Buildings of Lismore NSW Australia

Scammers targeting flood victims

During their most vulnerable hour, those affected by the devastating floods are being targeted by scammers. That’s according to the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), who have issued an alert for flood affected victims

Whether it’s pretending to be an insurance company, a charity group or a government employee, it’s sadly not uncommon for scammers to strike in the wake of natural disasters.

Leanne Vale, Director of Services and Financial Crimes for COBA, said scammers have become increasingly sophisticated when it comes to impersonating organisations and taking advantage of emotions - particularly when people are at their most vulnerable.

“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,” she said.1

In light of these warnings, here are some tips to help keep yourself, your loved ones and your community safe:

Tip 1: Who initiated the contact?

Be wary of phone calls, emails or text messages that are unsolicited. This is particularly the case if the organisation is asking you to send money. During the chaos and confusion of a natural disaster, this sort of approach can often go unquestioned.

Tip 2: Confirm their identity

If you’re being contacted and it doesn’t feel right, locate an independently sourced phone number of the organisation claiming to be communicating with you and call it back. Most importantly, don’t feel pressured to respond to their requests if you’re not 100% sure.

Tip 3: Keep your information safe

In a natural disaster setting, it’s very easy to trust someone on the phone who you think is helping you. However, be careful not to disclose personal information in a phone call if you’re not 100% who you’re speaking with. You should also never share your computer screen, reveal any codes sent to you or provide passwords to government websites. If an organisation asks you to do any of the above, end the communication.

Tip 4: Genuine organisations won’t ask you for money

You will not be asked to make any payments to process an assistance payment. Any requests from government departments and Services Australia can be checked by calling the dedicated phone numbers found on their official websites which should all contain “.gov.au”

Tip 5: Be careful who you donate to

In times of crises, Australians have a wonderful reputation for coming together to support struggling communities. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of this good will, pretending to be a charity. If you are approached to donate, confirm the name they’re providing you with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commissions website.