At Northern Inland Credit Union we care about keeping you and your money safe from scammers and fraud. We deploy a number of measures to help protect you, and we notify our Members when there are new or prevalent scams to be wary of. Fortunately there are common signs of scammers to look out for and ways to help protect yourself.
Scammers attempt to get access to your computer, or to your personal and financial information by convincing you to disclose your passwords and access codes, or by convincing you to click on a link in an email or download a document that is hiding malicious code.
They will impersonate a family member, utility company or government departments to try and get your personal details or even bank account details. Identity theft is a real risk if they get hold of enough information. You can protect yourself by increasing your knowledge of current scams, and adding security to your bank accounts such as multi factor authentication.
Common types of scams
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Scammers often will impersonate a well-known company, and press you to click on a link, or download a document. If you are uncertain as to whether the message is from your service provider, contact your service provider direct from their number listed in the White Pages directory, or via their website.
Never give your personal or banking information or details to anyone over the phone or online if you don’t know for sure who they are or where they are from. This means not giving them your date of birth, address, full name, or account numbers and card numbers.
Never tell anyone your card PIN nor your Online Banking passwords and codes. Remember, NICU staff will never ask you for this information either.
If you are unsure of the identity of the person you are speaking to on the phone, end the conversation. Contact the company by getting the phone number from a trusted source like the official company website or the White Pages. Similarly, if you are unsure that a staff member from Northern Inland Credit Union is calling you, hang up and ring us back on 6763 5111, and ask for the staff member by their name.
Text messaging scams are one of the most common types of a phishing scam. Scam text messages try to sound urgent to make you act quickly. They often include a link that leads to a scam website. Scammers can steal any personal information you enter on these websites and use it to steal your money or commit fraud in your name.
To make these messages seem real, scammers copy the phone number and sender ID of businesses or people you know. Scam messages can even appear in the same message chain as real messages from the organisation, making them harder to identify.
"Hi mum" text scam
The scammer will claim they have lost or damaged their phone and are making contact from a new number. Then, once they have developed a rapport with their target, the scammer will ask for personal information such as photos for their social media profile or money to help urgently pay a bill, contractor or replace the phone.
If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be your son, daughter, relative or friend, start by calling them on the number already stored in your phone to confirm if it’s no longer in use.
Please be careful to whom you send money to as the funds may not be recoverable.
Be mindful, on how to identify fraudulent websites so they are not caught out. Some things to look out for include:
- A legitimate URL – with no unusual characters or strange symbols eg. http://nic3u.com.4u
- Unusual messages asking you for personal or financial details
- Communications using poor expression, misspelled words and unclear graphics
- Research the website and read the reviews
- Websites that have limited information about their business, no contact details and only provide a PO Box for their address are likely to be fake
- Fake padlock on the page to imply security for online transactions. The padlock should only appear in the website browser’s address bar
- Be wary of people who are keen to develop a friendship or romance online with you, and then start mentioning money problems
Many of us like the concept of ‘try before you buy’. Test it out and see if the product or service is worth it. Just make sure you read all the terms and conditions before making an online purchase. Many free trials have special actions you need to take within deadlines in order to cancel the trial, otherwise the company commences to bill you each month without further contact with you.
Fixing a free trial
Email or contact the company concerned to find out the following:
Clarify the free trial period
- When are payments debited?
- What is considered an opt-out or cancellation to ensure a debit to your account is not triggered?
Note: These companies are almost always offshore and do not operate under our Australian marketing laws. The dispute is between you and the company and in most cases, you will have to contact the company to request a refund and cancel the subscription.
Remember, if a trial is truly free, why are they asking for your card or account details?
Customers are reporting scams involving PayID, in which fraudsters are sending fake PayID emails to people selling items on online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.
The fraudster tells the seller that there was an issue making payment due to a PayID limit present on non-business accounts. They advise the seller must first transfer funds to increase their PayID limit before they can receive payment.
The seller is promised they will receive both a refund and the buyer’s payment.
However, they do not receive either and have been tricked into paying money to a scammer.
Please note PayID does not require a payment to set up nor increase limits for PayID.
You will also never receive emails phone calls from PayID or Osko requesting payment to set up an account, access services or increase limits.
To set up a PayID account, you only need to request the service from your financial institution, and supply your mobile phone number or email address
This is also referred to as a business email compromise scam. A scammer will impersonate a business or employee by email and request that you send money to a fraudulent account. The request will appear to be from a legitimate business, often one that you could usually expect to receive payment requests from. However, the scammer has changed the bank account on the request to their own. They use clever tactics to make the request appear genuine to their victims.
When you receive a payment request it is important to take your time and first consider if the email is real. Check the email address and contact details are correct.
It is also a good idea to contact the business by telephone (again, check the White Pages) and confirm their bank account information, especially if the request includes new contact details.
Be sceptical about communications that say you’ve won a free trip or prize, or scored a great deal on a holiday. These can appear as a pop-up message while you’re browsing the internet, or a message you receive after filling out an online survey.
Do not provide your bank account, credit card details or other personal information to such callers or messages.
Investment scams will request you make a financial investment in a product that is either:
Completely fake, in that neither the company nor the investment exists, or
- A genuine investment product/type, but the scammer does not work or represent the actual company and does not invest your funds. A scammer will approach you with an offer that is usually too good to be true. There may also be a sense of urgency attached to the offer.
If you think an investment offer may be a potential scam it is important to ask questions and do your own research before deciding to make an investment. Check a financial adviser holds an Australian Financial Services Licence or Australian Credit Licence on the ASIC website.
In recent scams, known as 'romance baiting', the scammer attempts to initiate a relationship, and once trust has been established, encourages the victim to place money in an investment, which is often crypto currency
ASIC’s Moneysmart website provides more assistance on making appropriate investments. Understand whether the provider of the investment is subject to Australian regulation.
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners online. This is often done via the use of a fake social media or dating app profile. The scammer will express strong emotions for their victims in a short period of time. They want to gain their trust before making an urgent request for money. This is usually due to an alleged emergency such as health issue or legal matter to convince you to send them money to help them out.
Do not provide money to someone you have not met in person. Do not provide your personal financial information to someone you have not yet met in person.
Tax scams are used to scam people by impersonating the Australian Taxation Office ("ATO") and take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers.
This may be in the form of an email or text message asking you to complete your tax return urgently or to update your details.
If you receive suspicious correspondence claiming to be from the ATO you should always phone the ATO directly on 1800 008 540 to confirm that the correspondence is authentic.
Working from home and other flexible working arrangements are now seen as highly desirable by many people. Scammers are taking advantage of this to provide fake jobs vacant advertisements which require you to provide a resume and contact details, and on occasion, copies of identity documents or ID Document information such as drivers licence, Medicare card, or passport.
Loyalty programs are the latest targets for Loyalty programs are the latest targets for scammers, the ACCC has warned. Program members are receiving text messages telling them their points are expiring and asking them to go to a fake website and provide account details. To protect yourself, do not click on links sent in emails or calls. Always navigate to the loyalty program provider’s website via an online search.
Tips for protecting yourself against scammers
Northern Inland recommends these practices when dealing with all your service providers. Please be advised that where you participate or contribute to access to your account – such as providing information, codes and PINs to a scammer – you may not be protected from losses arising from such access.
Mobile Phone Security
- Turn on the security features
- Turn off Bluetooth or GPS when you aren’t using them
- Set a password or PIN
- Know where your phone is
- Think before you click – lots of dodgy websites contain malware that will render your phone useless
- Check for software updates regularly
- Permanently delete all data from your phone before you upgrade to another one.
You should choose a PIN that you can remember, but that does not represent part of your address, date of birth or telephone number. It should not be able to be easily guessed by any other person, so avoid consecutive and repeated numbers.
- Don’t keep your PIN with your card
- Don’t share your PIN with anyone
- Cover your hand when entering your PIN
- Don’t let your card out of sight
- Report a lost or stolen card immediately to 02 6763 5111.
- Online purchasing – always use reputable sites and look out for the secure padlock symbol when making purchases
- Don’t share your passwords or write them down. Change them frequently. Current best practise suggests passwords should be 10 digits or longer and include letters, symbols and numbers.
- Don’t choose passwords that are easy to guess such as your date of birth, phone number or car rego plate
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date
- Be wary of scams – unsolicited emails and incentive offers. Just remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Ensure you only download apps from the official App stores
- Never use online banking in public places like internet cafes or where there is free Wi-Fi access
- Keep your operating system up to date with the latest version of operating system and apps.
Your online banking password, and your SMS one-time-password, are like your signature. Do not share these with any other person, including family and friends. Northern Inland staff will never ask you for your online banking codes and SMS one-time-passwords.
To keep access to Mobile Banking and the app safe, do not share your SMS one-time-password with any other person; this code acts as your signature to open your phone and any applications.
Allow manufacture updates to your advice in a timely manner. Maintain virus protection and firewalls. For more information, speak to your telecommunications provider.
Identity Theft: to protect against ID theft
- Notify us immediately if you change your address or contact details
- Notify the relevant department if you lose any personal documentation eg Drivers license
- Secure your letter box if possible
- Shred any documents containing personal information that you no longer require.
Let us know before you travel overseas so we know when transactions aren’t suspicious and so we can set you up with an alert that sends you a text whenever you make a transaction whilst overseas. That way if it wasn’t you who made the transaction, you will quickly know about it.
You can notify us of your travel plans on our NICU app, by phoning 02 6763 5111 or by visiting a branch.
Check your account statements regularly
So that you can quickly follow up on any suspicious transactions that might be unauthorised or fraudulent. The earlier you identify and report scams where there has been an unusual and unauthorised transaction, the quicker investigations can commence to try to recover funds.
If you are a Northern Inland Member you can contact us on 6763 5111, and after hours, select option 2.
Be aware of account activity
With Northern Inland you can set up to receive an SMS when your account is credited and debited. This means you can keep an eye on what is happening with your account and identify anything unusual very quickly. You can set up SMS alert messages via your Online Banking session, or contact us if you need help getting started.
Check your social media privacy
Scammers can use your social media posts to find out your personal information. If you use social media, make sure you only connect with people you know. Review your security and privacy settings regularly to ensure your information is only available to your network.
Check your free credit report
Your credit report will show if someone has attempted to apply for credit in your name, such as for a loan or credit card. You can apply for a free credit check through an official Australian credit reporting agency. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner recommends three credit reporting bodies:
- Equifax: provides a free credit report every three months
- Experian: provides a free credit report every three months
- illion: provides free credit reports at any time after the creation of a free profile.
Communicating with your service providers
Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Scammers can ‘spoof’ or mimic the genuine telephone number for service providers, so ask the caller to identify themselves, such as with details from your last bill or statement. When in doubt, hang up, and call on the number you find in the White Pages directory for the service provider.
Do not call register
Consider listing your telephone numbers with this federal register to stop marketing calls. If you do receive marketing calls, you can be reasonably confident that they are from scammers.
How Northern Inland protects our Members
The security of the personal information and funds of our Members is Northern Inland’s priority.
We provide information on security measures and current scams to our Members. We directly communicate with our Members with things they can do (and things you can avoid) to help keep your hard-earned savings safe, and your personal information confidential.
How Northern Inland verifies Member identity
Before we accept an instruction from you, we will verify your identity – we need to make sure we are not dealing with someone who is impersonating a Northern Inland Member. We may ask you to quote your NICU password, or we may ask you questions that are not easily answered by someone who has your identity documents, or who is not unauthorised to access to your accounts.
Never tell anyone your card PIN nor your Online Banking passwords and codes. Remember, Northern Inland staff will never ask you for this information either.
If you have advised us that your identity has been compromised, we will set up additional processes for when we are taking your instructions, and assist you with what to do next.
You need to verify our identity too: if you receive a call from someone who claims to be calling from Northern Inland, ask them for their name, then call us back on 6763 5111 to ask for the staff member by name. Always use our general number – 6763 5111 – to ensure you are speaking with our staff.
To get information to affected Members in a timely manner – such as changes to products or services, security alerts, or branch closures due to flooding – we may send you a Short Message Service (SMS) or an email. We will not send you links to websites within our communications. Instead, we will recommend that you visit our website and look for updates under Latest News on the home page.
If your identity is compromised
If you suspect your identity is being impersonated, or if you are notified that details of your identity documents have been compromised, you should take immediate action. This includes:
- Reporting unusual activity to Northern Inland, and IDCARE (1800 595 160)
- Contacting your service providers to change your passwords and codes, and to request multi-level authentication if you are not already using it. Your service providers can flag your account and take additional steps before they act on instructions which purportedly are from you
- Ensuring you are not using the same codes or PINs across multiple providers
- Check your free credit reports with Equifax, illion and Experian. You can also request a credit freeze
- Ensure your anti-virus protection across your devices is updated
- Watch out for any unusual transactions across all of your accounts; check your statements regularly
- Ask your telecommunications provider to lock your SIM card. If you suddenly lose all mobile service, contact your telecommunication provider to ensure your SIM has not been jacked (which refers to action a scammer takes by tricking your telco into giving them access to a phone number that is not theirs).
- Contact relevant government agencies to have your identification documents re-issued.
Remain vigilant. Scammers may often wait months or years before an attempted identification take-over.
Government agencies and websites recommend the latest information on scams. Some allow you to register for alerts to help keep you up to date with the latest information.
- www.scamwatch.gov.au – tells you what scams are currently prevalent, and what to do if you have been scammed. You can also subscribe to receive email alerts on the latest scams.
- www.cyber.gov.au –information about online scams and tips on how to protect yourself when making online transactions
- www.moneysmart.gov.au – information on making appropriate investments.
If you are making a purchase from an Australian website you can check if the ABN is legitimate at: www.abr.business.gov.au.