Queenslanders at risk of increased scam attacks


How to protect yourself against scammers looking to use your stolen data.

Women holding credit car while on laptop.

Queenslanders are warned to be vigilant against increased scam activity in the wake of recent major data breaches.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch said scammers could use information stolen from organisations including Medibank and Optus to target individuals with increased phishing emails, phone calls and SMS or social media messages.

Medibank said it was contacted by criminals saying they had stolen data, including names and addresses, dates of birth, Medicare numbers, policy numbers, phone numbers and some claims data.

The stolen Optus data includes names and addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, residential addresses and identity document numbers such as driver licence, Medicare and passport numbers.

Scamwatch said criminals would use the data to target individuals.

Tips from Scamwatch

  • Be wary of new communications and don’t just accept what you’re being told. Take your time, do your research, and independently contact the purported business or agency communicating with you, using contact details you have sourced yourself, for example through searching for the business or agency online.
  • Do not click any links or open any attachments.
  • Never provide anyone with your personal or banking information or grant remote access to your device.
  • Check the login activity for your accounts and sign out of unrecognised devices (Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo, AppleID, Facebook)
  • Check your social media accounts, update passwords and do privacy and security checks

Go to the Scamwatch website for more advice on the Medibank and Optus data breaches.

Scammers getting personal

Queenslanders should also be wary of the increasing threat of scammers posing as family or friends.

Scamwatch said more than 1,150 Australians fell victim to the so-called Hi Mum' scam in the first seven months of this year, with total reported losses of $2.6 million. 

“We have seen an explosion in the number of ‘Hi Mum’ scams, so we are warning Australians to be very wary of messages from unknown numbers claiming to be from their children, parents, relatives or friends,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Scammers will stop at nothing to get your personal details or money and this particular scam is designed to pull your heartstrings.

“It’s important to stop and think if you get a message, especially on WhatsApp, because chances are it’s not your family member or friend – it’s a scammer.”

The ACCC urged anyone who received suspicious messages from a number they did not recognise, to independently verify the contact.

Scammers posing as relatives or friends send a message claiming they have lost or damaged their phone and are making contact with a new number.

Once they have convinced the targeted person they are a family member or friend, they will then ask for money, saying their phone is lost or broken and can’t access online banking.

“Unfortunately, these unscrupulous scammers are targeting women and older Australians, with 82% of family impersonation scams reported by people over the age of 55, accounting for 95% of all reported losses,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you have reason to believe you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible as they may be able to find where the money went, block scam accounts and help others to avoid sending money to scammers.”

What you can do

  • If you are suspicious of a phone call, hang up immediately. If you are unsure, you can also ask for the phone number to call the person back and do some further research.
  • Frequently change your passwords to reduce the likelihood of someone getting remote access to your details.
  • If you see a text you are not sure about, do not click the link.
  • Never send money without being sure who you are sending it to.
  • If you think you have been scammed, report it to the ACCC’s Scamwatch. The ACCC cannot help you get your money back but alerting it may help protect other potential victims. 

RACQ is here to help you

Helping protect our members against the rise of fraud and scams is a key priority for RACQ.

If you are concerned that you have been compromised, please contact  us on 13 1905 or for our bank members, visit your local store.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.