Dire warning as criminals target the vulnerable

HEARTLESS scammers attempting to fool residents into sharing bank details is an experience Jill Hall is all too familiar with.

Fortunately, the Rockhampton woman cottoned on to the scam after a few moments and avoided a near disaster – and she’s warning others to also be vigilant.

“I got a call, which sounded almost like a recorded message, it was a woman who said there had been two fraud attempts on my credit card,” she said.

“Apparently there had been a charge for $400 for a gift card, then a man claiming to be from the bank’s security department came on to the phone.”

Ms Hall, 74, questioned his credibility, before he prompted her to authorise a response to the transactions, even asking for the first four digits of her bank card.

The ACCC has previously warned of these phishing scams, noting they are increasingly common.

Its website states these type of scams seem genuine, and often copy the format used by the organisations the scammer is pretending to represent.

Never provide personal or banking details, it reads, adding an independent check with an individual’s bank is best practice.

Ms Hall’s biggest concern, however, is scammers targeting the more vulnerable members of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We took a meal around to an elderly lady who is on veterans’ pensions, and she mentioned that somebody had been attempting to access her bank account,” she said.

The live-in carer was left equally dumbfounded after the criminals contacted her patient multiple times over the course of a day.

“I honestly believe that [the scammers] have a list of pensioners, we’re forever getting these kinds of calls,” Ms Hall said.

“We’ve had tons of these, but this is the first time they’ve tried this type of scam. Mostly they’ve been Telstra scams which threaten to shut down our landline.”

While Ms Hall still experiences the calls from time to time, she admits the rate has dropped since blocking international calls.

“Some elderly people are very innocent and naive about it all so they’re at serious risk. Not everyone has someone to keep an eye out for them.”

Ms Halls hopes loved ones of those more vulnerable to the scams will ensure protective measures, as well as making the person aware, are taken.

“I hadn’t really heard any warnings about this which is concering, but they seem to be ramping it up with this whole coronavirus thing too,” she said.

“Just be aware, perhaps reach out to your family and friends if this happens. They are so many who are innocent about it all, so I think it’s really important to raise some awareness.”

Victims of scams are encouraged to report it online to the Queensland Government’s Scam Watch.