Scammers targeting flood-impacted communities

Please be aware of scammers targeting flood-impacted communities in Queensland and New South Wales.

26 March 2021

Heritage Bank is urging residents impacted by the extreme weather and flooding events across Queensland and New South Wales to be on the lookout for scammers posing as government employees, financial institutions, insurers or charity groups.

Scammers may deploy various tactics to take advantage of people in vulnerable circumstances, like the recent flooding events, to steal their personal details and money. 

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, more than 5,000 insurance claims were lodged over the weekend, with insurers aiming to fast-track the processing of claims for flood-impacted policyholders. The amount lost to rebate scams is also on the rise. In December 2020, ACCC’s Scamwatch recorded a 300% increase from the previous year.

Scammers often follow disasters closely and target individuals and associated groups that have been impacted or are involved in the recovery. It’s important to remember that government departments will never randomly phone or send text messages to initiate a benefit claim.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Trusted organisations will not ask for an upfront payment to process recovery payments. Requests from Services Australia and government departments can be verified with a call to special hotlines made available on their websites.
  • Only donate to legitimate registered official charities. Verify the charity through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commissions website. When in doubt, do not click on any links contained within an email, text message or a website ad.
  • If you receive a call out of the blue about your account, requesting your personal details, asking you to transfer money, or requesting remote access to your computer, HANG UP  or say "I'll need to get back to you" and hang up – even if they mention a well-known company.
  • Under NO circumstances withdraw funds from your account based on information from a cold call.
  • DO NOT engage in conversation or provide any personal or sensitive information to the caller, such as sharing your bank account details, PIN, passwords, or website login details.
  • If you have provided sensitive information about your Heritage account, it’s very important you change ALL your Heritage Online passwords and call us immediately on 13 14 22. 
  • ALWAYS check the authenticity of any unsolicited communications. You can confirm if the communication is genuine or not by calling company mentioned back directly. Do not use the phone number or contact details provided by the person who has contacted you.  If it is a scam, the details provided may direct the call or communications back to the scammer.
  • If someone have accessed your computer remotely you should ensure that your computer is professionally cleaned by a reputable technician to ensure there is no malware on your system.  

As always, if you have concerns about the security of your Heritage account, please contact us immediately on 13 14 22.

More online security tips from Heritage are available here.