How to help family and friends
By understanding scams, how they work and the warning signs, you can help relatives and friends avoid their devastating traps.
Know your scams and share them
Prevention is better than a cure!
- Learn about scams so you can firstly protect yourself, but also share the information with those around you.
- Give your nan a call to warn her about dodgy callers and what they’re really after.
- Remind dad not to click on that link threatening to close his Internet Banking due to a scary security event.
- If your mate is looking for love online, talk to them about the dangers involved and how they can tell a rogue from a Romeo.
Our how to keep yourself safe from scams page provides useful information on some of the most common scams.
If you recognise any of the warning signs, you may need to investigate. For example, if a family member has been offered an investment opportunity out of the blue, find out what it is and get the information in writing. Take time to review the fine print to see if it’s legitimate.
What are the signs someone has been scammed?
You may be worried that someone you know has fallen victim to a scam. Look out for these warning signs:
- Evidence of large cash withdrawals or multiple cheque payments
- Unusual or erratic behaviour
- Lack of money to pay for other things
- Lots of phone calls or texts from strangers.
If you see a lifestyle change that’s out of the ordinary, you need to ask yourself why. For example, if your outgoing grandparent suddenly becomes withdrawn, that’s a sign something could be wrong.
How to help
If your family member or friend agrees, you should ensure that all contact with the fraudster stops. Then find out exactly what personal or banking information has been exposed.
Block the fraudster’s email address or ‘unfriend’ them from any social media sites or apps. Consider changing your family member’s email address and phone number, especially if contact from the fraudster continues. Their telephone provider may agree to change their number for free. If a physical address has been given, seek advice from local police.
If they’ve already sent funds, get them to contact their bank or credit union immediately. They may need to block their card or internet banking to prevent further loss, and to have any chance of recovery the bank or credit union will need to be informed ASAP.
It can be an emotionally turbulent experience for someone to discover that they’ve been scammed. They may become withdrawn and their emotions may include anger, depression, self-criticism, and guilt.
Remain patient and supportive, and remember that they may be experiencing strong emotions, even if they do not immediately show it.
You may also want to engage with supportive services such as:
A not-for-profit counselling and support service set up to assist Australians impacted by identity theft and cyber-related crimes.