Brokers have been called to exercise caution as financial scams crop up around the COVID-19 pandemic, attempting to exploit the heightened levels of fear and anxiety.
According to MyState Bank general manager of banking, Tony MacRae, extra vigilance is needed to ensure brokers’ businesses and their customers are not exposed to fraudulent activity.
The exec specifically warned against phishing scams sent via email or text messages which seem to provide official information about coronavirus.
“The sender claims to be from government departments, regulators or one of the key lenders,” MacRae explained.
“We know brokers are overloaded with information from different sources during this time including lenders and industry associations, which could make it difficult to determine what is legitimate and what is a potential scam.
“These emails will often ask receivers to click on an attachment or embedded link which will likely download malicious software onto their device to allow scammers free reign over their personal information and the financial data of their clients.”
Additionally, MacRae encouraged brokers to be thoughtful in which videoconferencing platforms they choose to communicate with customers as some have been proven to be less secure and susceptible to trolls hacking into private meetings.
“MyState Bank understands that mortgage brokers want to keep their customers as protected as possible and will support the channel in this endeavour by helping educate the wider community to spot the warning signs of fraud and possible scams they may be targeted with,” he continued.
“We are urging brokers to have these conversations with their customers, and watch out for themselves and any vulnerable clients who are at increased risk of becoming a target for fraudsters.”
The bank provided the following tips to help brokers protect their businesses and their customers:
- Be wary of any online requests or unsolicited phone calls requesting personal or financial details; it is highly unlikely a government department or other legitimate business would ask for that information via these channels
- If you remain unsure about the validity of a request, look up the number of the organisation in question on their official website and call that to confirm rather than using the number in the message
- Inspect email addresses and links by hovering your mouse over the URL to see where it leads; if something looks suspicious, don’t click on it
- Generic greetings such as “Dear Sir or Madam” are a red flag that you’re likely reading a phishing email
- Go to legitimate sources such as the WHO and the Australian Government Department of Health for your coronavirus updates
If you come across any suspicious behaviour, report it to the relevant authorities such as ASIC or the ACCC. For more information or aid, ACCC’s Scamwatch has further resources to help recognise and avoid scams, as well as a subscription service that provides real-time email alerts detailing the latest scams.