New scam warning – home care seniors targeted

Older Australians continue to be targeted by online and telephone scammers. The latest scam is aimed at people wanting or already receiving home care packages.

How it works

Scammers try to lure seniors into upfront payment for ‘vouchers’, with the promise this will get them a better home care package deal.

The federal health department is advising home care providers and clients to report any suspicious activity to police. You can also report fraudulent activity via their website.

If you are contacted out of the blue by a provider, do not provide them with your personal information or bank account details.

You should be wary of any businesses requesting payment via vouchers or gift cards.

The need for greater digital literacy

This latest scam comes after National Seniors Australia reported the number of seniors being approached by online scammers is on the rise.

More than 1,000 of almost 5,000 respondents - or 22 per cent, said they had been the target of an internet scam.

Those who used the internet less frequently were more likely to fall victim to a scam.

Scams included bogus phone calls from Telstra, Microsoft, NBN and the Tax Office, as well as letters wanting to launder vast sums of money.

Others fell victim to computer extortion where money was demanded to remove a virus they had unwittingly put on their computer.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported that over 65s submitted more than 26,400 reports to Scamwatch in 2018 (a five per cent rise).

This included losses of over $21.4 million (a 22 per cent increase).

“Scammers will scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long-term partner, taking advantage of those who are inexperienced with these sites and may be in a vulnerable emotional state,” ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard said.

“Investment scams are the most financially harmful because the scammers invest time and money into convincing sales pitches, flashy websites and even glossy brochures.”

Older Australians looking to grow their nest eggs, but who instead get caught up in investment scams, reported losses of $7.6 million, and those misled through fake relationships reported losses of $5.8 million.

Be Connected, be protected

National Seniors Australia is working with The Good Things Foundation, who specialise in digital connection and education, to empower older Australians to thrive in a digital world using the Be Connected learning platform.

Read all about the Be Connected program here.

National Seniors Australia aims to train 100 volunteer digital mentors to help people in their communities learn digital skills. You can register your interest in becoming a digital mentor via the link above.

Mentors receive one full day training plus follow up support. Training sessions will be held in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Canberra.

There is also a 30-minute online training module available to anyone wanting to assist a loved one but unable to commit to the digital mentor program.  

Learn more

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