The NSW Government is urging people to be alert to cybercriminals targeting busy online shoppers ahead of Christmas, with more than $126.5 million lost to scams across the state in 2023.
The number of scams reported in 2023 has already surpassed last year’s figure, with more than 257,000 reports about scams nationwide and 77,000 in NSW alone.
As the holiday season nears and people start shopping for loved ones, consumers should be wary of ‘impersonation scams’, the focus of this year’s Scams Awareness Week.
Impersonation scams are when perpetrators seek to trick victims into thinking they are from well-known businesses or organisations such as the police, government or banks, with some even pretending to be a friend or family member to access personal information.
Urgent requests for personal details or money, an apparently legitimate business asking for different bank details from previous payments, and messages threatening immediate arrest or deportation are all examples of impersonation scams.
People are reminded to be cautious when opening emails and text messages. If you are unsure if the message is legitimate, contact the sending organisation using details listed on the organisation’s website or another public platform.
Other steps include not opening or downloading any attachments or apps, as these can install malicious software on to a computer or phone, as well as keeping an eye out for slight variations in Caller or Sender IDs like dots, special characters, or numbers.
ID Support NSW provides support for people and businesses impacted by ID breaches. If personal information or government credentials have been compromised, ID Support NSW can be contacted on 1800 001 040 for support.
To mark Scams Awareness Week, which runs from Monday, 27 November to Friday, 1 December 2023, ID Support NSW will be running a series of online events focused on the different types of impersonation scams.
For more information about ID Support NSW’s Scams Awareness Week events visit ID Support NSW.
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Jihad Dib said:
“Whether it is a message from a family member asking for money or a delivery company sending a text about a parcel, not everyone you are dealing with is who they say they are. As people shop online ahead of Christmas, we want you to be wary of what could be opportunistic scams.”
“Scams Awareness Week 2023 shines a light on these impersonations and tells you how to detect them.”
“With the sheer volume of messages many people receive on a daily basis, it is important to recognise the signs of an impersonation scam and how to keep your identity protected.”
“The team at ID Support NSW is helping raise awareness of these scams through online events this week and other resources available on their website, as well as supporting victims to reclaim their identity.”
ID Support NSW Director James Blakely said:
“We know cyber criminals don’t take holidays, so we are encouraging everyone to stay vigilant this festive season and look out for suspicious emails, text messages or phone calls.”
“Avoid clicking directly on links, particularly from unsolicited texts and emails, and make sure to buy from trusted sellers whose information can be verified.”
“Education is essential when staying protected from scams, that’s why ID Support NSW has a wide range of resources and online events available to keep people informed.”