Record scam numbers recorded

Record scam numbers recorded

Australians are reporting a record number of scams, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s annual Targeting Scams report showing a 47% increase from 2015 to 2016. 

According to the ACCC report, scammers conned nearly $300 million out of Australian pockets between 2015 and 2016. Investment scams accounted for the largest percentage of this figure, costing $59 million, while dating and romance scams came in second with $42 million lost. 

Between the ACCC’s Scamwatch and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), 200,000 scams were reported in 2015-2016, with 45% of these reports coming from Australians over the age of 55.

While most these scammers made contact over the phone or through email, social media scams are understood to be growing in popularity. With this in mind, the theme of 2017’s National Consumer Fraud Week (15-19 May) is Spot Social Media Scams.

How to spot a fake trader online or on social media

One of the most common scams on social media is the Fake Trader. Essentially, this involves creating a professional-looking ad on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site, usually for an online store selling interesting products.

If you click the ad, you’ll be taken through to a similarly slick-looking fake website, where you can purchase the item from the ad. However, once you hand over your money, the item never arrives, and you never hear from the trader again.

Spotting a fake online trader isn’t always easy – some scammers do a very professional job creating their ads and websites – but there are ways to catch them out.

  • Pause before buying – Resist your Fear Of Missing Out and don’t instinctively smash that Buy Now button. Take your time to check that the offer and the trader are the real deal before making any online transaction.
  • Look up the seller – Do they have an ABN? Do they have reviews or mentions on other websites? Has anyone you know dealt with them before? What’s their refund policy?
  • Look up the trader’s contact details – Will you be able to chase up an order if there are problems? Are they active on social media? Do they respond to criticism or complaints?

Many of these tips are also applicable when it comes to investment scams as well. No matter how tempted you are to invest your money with a professional-looking organisation promising a sure return, always check first!

How to protect yourself from fake traders

  • Use secure payment methods – These include credit cards and PayPal, which are administered by third parties. If you are a victim of a scam or fraud, contact the credit card provider or PayPal so they can chase your money up.
  • Avoid insecure payment methods – Examples include wire transfers, electronic currency, international funds transfer or pre-paid gift cards.
  • Trust no-one – Never send money or payment details to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email.
  • Only pay via a website’s secure payment method – When you navigate to a cart or checkout page, or anywhere else you enter account detaisl or payment information, look for a web address starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol.

Again, many of these tips are also applicable to investment scams.

For other tips to protect yourself from online social media scams, including how to spot fake profiles on dating and matchmaking sites, and who to trust on social media platforms, check the ACCC’s Scamwatch site, or read through The Little Black Book of Scams.

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Learn more about credit cards

How do I apply for a credit card online?

How to make a credit card online

If you’re wondering about how to make a credit card online application, here are some steps to follow:

  • Test the market. Many credit card options are available online. Compare providers by fees, interest and perks to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Complete the application. Once you’ve selected a card, head to the provider’s website and complete the online credit card application form. Forms vary by providers.
  • Provide details. Most cards require you to meet age, residency, income and credit status condition, and you need to provide details like a bank account statement to prove this.
  • Review details. Ensure the information you’ve entered is correct.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

Can I get a credit card on part-time/casual work?

Yes, as credit card providers look at your annual income amount as well as your occupation. Minimum income requirements tend to be between $30,000 – $40,000 for standard and rewards credit cards, however low income credit cards can have minimum income requirements as low as $15,000 per year.

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you might encounter two main problems. First, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to be rejected when you apply for a loan or any other credit product. Second, if your application is accepted, the less likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rates.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

Why do different credit reporting bureaus use different scores?

The reason Equifax, Experian and Illion use different scores is because they are independent companies with their own different methodologies. As a result, a score of, say, 700 would mean different things at different credit reporting bureaus.

However, the one thing they have in common is that they divide their scores into five tiers. So if you receive a tier-two credit score from one bureau, you will probably receive a tier-two score from the others, as well.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. A balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. 

How long does it take to get a credit card?

There are a few stages you need to go through to get a credit card; each one takes a different length of time.

Applying for the card online, over the phone or in person is the fastest step. This usually takes around 15 minutes, provided you have all of your documents handy.

After submitting your application, it usually takes between one to 10 business days for the lender to assess your eligibility. Some lenders offer instant approval, although you will need to send supporting documents before it is official.

Once your application has been approved, expect to wait between one to 14 days to receive your card in the mail. Keep in mind that delays can happen during busy periods, such as if the lender has launched a special deal.