G&C Mutual Bank is a proud partner of Scams Awareness Week 2020. This year’s theme Be yourself. Don’t let a scammer be you focuses on how you can protect yourself from personal information and identity crime in an increasingly digital environment. The campaign raises awareness about common scam types such as romance and dating scams.
What is a romance and dating scam?
A romance and dating scam is, arguably, the most deceptive of scams as the ‘imposter’ usually forms a close bond with their victim. The scammer will play with their victim’s emotions and gain their trust before taking their money and leaving them heartbroken.
The scammer’s tactics often unfold over a period of time, during which they trick you into revealing lots of personal information, which makes you vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity crime.
This type of scam will typically start with a stranger striking up a conversation with you online, whether on a dating platform, social media or even an online game, such as scrabble.
After developing a connection with you, the scammer will tell you an elaborate story usually along the following themes:
- They live or work overseas, often in the military, or on an oil rig, possibly as a doctor or medical professional, or in business or trade.
- They profess love or strong feelings towards you early in the relationship.
- Eventually, due to some unforeseen and elaborate story – they will ask you for money, and along the way they will extract personal information about you.
- They will often claim to be financially well-off, with a large amount of money either incoming soon or temporarily inaccessible due to circumstances beyond their control.
- In some cases, they will lure you into a fake investment ‘opportunity’, in effect becoming an investment scam where you lose money and disclose personal and financial information under the guise of the ‘investment’.
- During the scam, you may reveal your name, date of birth, address, background, passwords or clues to passwords, financial and banking information, and sometimes copies of your identity documents.
How to protect yourself
- Be alert
- If you are approached online by a stranger, always consider that if you have not met them in person, you cannot be certain of their identity.
- Refuse requests to move a conversation to a private channel as this is a tactic that scammers will often use to lure your conversation to somewhere where it cannot be monitored.
- Be careful about the personal information you disclose or sensitive photographs you share with someone you don’t know and trust.
- Run an image search of your online friend or love interest, scammers are known to steal photos of real people. You can use Google or TinEye to search images online.
- Search for the name of your romantic interest. Romance scammers are known to re-use their often unique fictional names.
- Be alert to anything that seems off, such as poor spelling and grammar, inconsistencies in their stories, or excuses for why they cannot video call or meet you in person.
- Say no
- If they ask for money, a loan, your bank details, any personal identifying information about you or copies of your documents, or ask you to invest in a company they recommend—just say no. These are signs that you may be dealing with a scammer.
- Never agree to transfer money for someone else; money laundering is a crime.
If you believe someone has gained access to your personal information, even if the scam appears unrelated to your finances, you should contact your bank immediately. A timely response can be critical in giving you the best chance to stem any loss.
- If you have concerns about your G&C Mutual Bank account contact us on 1300 364 400.
- If you have been the victim of identity theft, IDCARE - Australia and New Zealand’s not-for-profit national identity and cyber support service, can guide you through the steps to reclaim your identity. Contact them on 1300 432 273 or visit idcare.org.
- If the scam occurred on social media or a legitimate website, report it to the platform involved. For scams on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, see this step-by-step guide for reporting scams on Facebook services.
- You can find out how scams work, how to protect yourself, what to do if you’ve been scammed or report a scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) via the Scamwatch website.