The Unreliable Guide to…Scammers
The Unreliable Guide is really pissed off. Right now, I’m getting four or five scam texts a day telling me I’ve got a delivery. Liars! They don’t have news about my lovely order of Byron Bay paleo muesli, they want to infect my phone with a crappy virus. This has been going on for months now and it’s making me very, very angry.
Last year, Australians lost over 851 million dollars to scams and there were over 444,000 reports of scams. That is a lot of very pissed off people. During the Second World War, people who undermined public confidence through scams, looting and cons were held to be guilty of treason, a crime that carried the death penalty. I’m not saying that we should put on a blindfold, line these bastards up against the wall and shoot them, but this pandemic has been like a war – our lives have been upturned, we’ve been anxious, scared, even fearing for our lives. Taking advantage of that doesn’t make these people cheeky scammers, they are grubby scumbags. I probably wouldn’t shoot them in the head, but I definitely would kick them in the balls. Hard. And I’ve stopped calling what they do “scams”, I call them “scums”. If you feel the same, never fear, The Unreliable Guide is here to help you steer clear of the current range of scums.
The thing that really shits me about these scum texts is how difficult it is to avoid opening them. If your phone is like mine, a text pops up on your phone even when it’s locked. “Oh,” you think, “how lovely, someone is texting me.” Perhaps it’s a double-vaccinated mate inviting me out for an alcohol-free picnic in the local park. You click before you read, and before you know it you’re on some random website, there’s a cloud of ironic balloons and you’ve downloaded some malware that will munch through all your secret data, clear out your bank accounts, ring all your friends at 2am and send your mum all the dodgy pictures your liability mate Charles sends you on WhatsApp. Ha, bloody ha, I don’t think so. So now, like me, you must never open a text without checking it. If you drink a bottle of rosé one afternoon and accidentally open one of these scums, check online to see the latest advice on how to sort it out. I have an Apple phone, so it was a simple ‘clear history’ and total reset for me. If you have an Android, it may be more tricky, but there are lots of helpful sites online. When in doubt, power your phone off completely and use another device to find out what to do next.
I personally think phone scums are easier to spot than text scums because I never answer my phone without checking who it is first. If the number is unknown, I probably won’t even answer. If it’s ‘number withheld’, I am never going to answer. Many of my mates have silenced all unknown numbers, largely due to the fact they were getting so many scum calls. I reckon that if it’s important, Mr or Ms unknown will leave me a voicemail. If they don’t, well… I don’t need to hear what they’ve got to say. If you get a call and the person says they are from any official body – your bank, the Tax Office, Federal Police or even Save the Koalas – politely say you’ll call them back. If they are legit, you will be able to find their number online or on a bank statement, etc. Always double check any number before you call. Scums can be very crafty.
Finally, I didn’t even have time to mention email scums, but the same general principles apply. Be suspicious, check your facts, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re scum-smart already, remember to keep an eye on your oldsters and your youngsters – scums love to target vulnerable people. And for the very latest information on scams, check sites like www.scamwatch.gov.au.