Little-known scam costs senior dearly
IT'S not just the financial loss, but the mental and physical spin-offs of being scammed which take their toll.
Weeks after having more than $9500 illegally taken from her credit card, Toowoomba's Gabrielle Saide said it had "really knocked me around".
She wants other seniors to know it is not just through incoming calls and emails that you can fall victim to scams, but also through fake phone numbers provided on the internet.
Gabrielle had been looking for answers to a problem she was having with her emails when she found what purported to be a Microsoft help desk phone number.
Like many of us, she prefers talking to someone on the phone rather than doing an online chat.
She rang the 1800 number, which was answered by an American, and was told that to go ahead with the service she needed to provide a small $1.30 fee, which would be refunded to her account.
Having provided her details and her computer IP address, the service took remote access of her computer, just as a real IT help desk would do.
She was told they would ring back in 30 minutes when the problem was fixed.
Instead, they accessed her account 14 times, tallying up $9549.90 in spending.
Aged in her 70s and considering herself "reasonably tech-savvy" due to using the computer regularly in her work and volunteering, Gabrielle has since been kicking herself for not recognising the con straight away.
But when she had not heard back from the service that night, she called again, only to be told there were "a lot of problems with your computer".
Unable to access her online banking, she called the bank and discovered the list of suspicious online overseas transactions that had been racked up.
"It just goes to show you've always got to be one jump ahead, but as an older person particularly, you aren't always," she said.
In Gabrielle's case, she had been busy with plans to go away the next day for work and then a holiday.
Instead, she had to rearrange her trip, costing extra money, cancel and wait for a new credit card, and have malware which had been downloaded onto her computer removed, again at a cost.
And to add insult to injury, she also has to pay the overseas exchange charges for the transactions.
The bank has agreed to refund a percentage of the money fraudulently charged, but she has to cover more than $3000 because, as she understands it, she had provided some details to the scammers.
"I've certainly learnt my lesson the hard way and I want to let other people know so they don't make the same mistake," Gabrielle said.
She has also notified ScamWatch and the ACCC and plans to give details to the Australian Cyber Commission.
"It really rocks your trust in people," she said.
If you are concerned about possible scams, want to learn how to protect yourself from scams or report one, go to www.scamwatch.gov.au.
If you think your bank account details have been compromised, alert your bank or financial institution immediately