With the biggest Queensland NDIS rollout yet coming on 1 July, Brisbane criminologist Dr Jacqueline Drew says it pays to be vigilant about potential scams and frauds.
“Whenever there is a new major product or scheme introduced, offenders will consider ways they can use it as a vehicle to perpetrate crime,” Dr Drew said.
“For example, the NBN rollout saw a lot of frauds and schemes going on – people were contacted by scammers and threatened with having their internet cut off if they didn’t pay money or provide personal details.”
The National Disability Insurance Scheme has previously warned about potential scams involving people who claimed to represent the NDIS.
The scammers would call people with a disability and demand their bank account details and threaten legal action if they were not provided.
“Many scam calls or email will include a time limit to provide details or pay money to pressure the victim into making a quick decision,” Dr Drew said.
In in terms of financial cost, Dr Drew advised one of the biggest modern cyber threats was romance fraud.
“People will develop relationships online with scammers who use false or stolen photos,” she said.
“They can be incredibly manipulative and will target anyone they see as vulnerable.
“Some scammers will keep the relationship façade going up to a year before they even begin to ask for money.”
Dr Drew is currently the program director of the Bachelor of Information Technology/Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the Griffith Institute of Criminology, Griffith University.
She was one of the guest presenters at the 2018 Assistive Solutions Expo in May where she discussed cyber security and how to watch for online scams.
If you are suspicious of anyone claiming to represent the NDIS, ask for their name and number and call the NDIA on 1800 800 110 to confirm if the caller is legitimate.
Tips to avoid cyber fraud
- Check the email address – often the email address won’t be an official company one.
- Check to see if the email or caller is threatening a tight deadline for information or payment.
- If an email is suspicious, do not follow links or attachments as this can expose you to viruses or malware.
- If in doubt, contact the purported company and check the validity of the email or call.
- Do not use the phone or email address provided in a suspicious email – search for the company online and use the official contact channels.
- Check websites, such as Scamwatch (scamwatch.gov.au) for updates on known scams.