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Australians have already lost over $13 million to scams this year

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The ACCC is warning Australians to watch out for investment scams that seem too good to be true.

If you receive an unsolicited phone call or email with an investment offer that seems too good to be true, it usually is.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is urging Australians to be more cautious with their financial information given that thousands of people have already fallen victim to investment scams this year.

“In the first half of 2017, Australians have reported losing over $13 million to investment scams to the ACCC’s Scamwatch website, making it the most profitable of all the current scams. It is likely that losses are much higher as many victims do not report scams or contact other authorities,” said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

This follows a record-breaking year for reported scams last year, with Australians losing almost $300 million. Of this, $59 million was attributed to investment scams and $42 million was due to romance scams largely conducted through social media.

“These scams typically start with a phone call out of the blue. The scammers are sophisticated, convincing and persistent, which is why we sadly see people lose large amounts of money to them. They are also delivered through unsolicited emails, online forums and social media,” said Ms Rickard.

“Scammers use high pressure tactics to sell you a financial opportunity that is ‘not to be missed’, involves high and quick returns for low risks and needs to be acted on quickly or you will miss out.”

“Whatever your motive is for the investments you make, do your research and never invest money with someone who has contacted you out of the blue, no matter who they say they are, how much money they promise you or the urgency with which they’re trying to make you act. They seem too good to be true because they are.”

According to the ACCC, men are twice as likely to be targeted by investment scams as women, and people aged between 45 and 64 are often victims.

What to look out for

  • Unsolicited phone calls or emails with the promise of high returns and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
  • Unsolicited offers to roll your superannuation into a SMSF.
  • If the caller uses investment jargon and calls multiple times.
  • If the caller provides you with professional-looking websites and documents.

To prevent falling victim to an investment scam, hang up if you receive a phone call like this and delete any emails. It is important to conduct your own research before making any investments, and check the Scamwatch website to stay informed of the latest scams.

Picture: Shutterstock

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