Scammers exploit people impacted by natural disasters and major events

Please be aware of scammers targeting people in the wake of floods impacting South East Queensland and New South Wales, and major events like the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

3 March 2022

A reminder to be on the lookout for scammers trying to exploit people in the wake of natural disasters and major events like the recent flood events across Queensland and New South Wales, and the evolving situation in Ukraine.

Not only do these scams cost you money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.

What they do

Scammers often impersonate legitimate charities, government agencies, financial institutions, insurers or charity groups. Their goal is to steal your personal information and money by taking advantage of the vulnerable, and of your generosity and compassion to help others in need. 

They follow disasters closely and target individuals and associated groups that have been impacted, or who want to support recovery efforts. Tactics may include asking for donations via phone, text message, email or social media, or asking you to provide details to access an insurance or benefit claim. 

Things to keep in mind

  • Only donate to legitimate registered official charities. You can verify Australian charities through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commissions website.
  • 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.
  • Under NO circumstances withdraw funds from your account based on information from a cold call.
  • 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.
  • DO NOT respond to any threats made by any callers or aggressive language, hang up immediately.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When in doubt, do not click on any links contained within an email, text message or a website ad. You may expose your systems to malware.
  • If you find someone has accessed your computer or mobile device remotely, turn off your internet, and disconnect your device from your internet service.  Ensure that your computer/device is professionally cleaned by a reputable technician to ensure there is no malware on your system. 
  • 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. 

While we will provide whatever assistance we can to members who have fallen victim to scams, unfortunately the likelihood of recovering lost funds is remote and cannot be guaranteed.

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. You can also visit Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s Scamwatch for helpful information on how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

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