During Consumer Fraud Week 2017, ASIC is reminding consumers to protect themselves against investment scams.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'The Targeting Scams report published today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows reports to Scamwatch on investment scams increased in 2016. ASIC is alerting the public to ways to stay informed and protect themselves from scams.
'The data published by the ACCC indicates that Australians continue to be vulnerable to scams, including investment scams. It also shows that scammers are increasingly using online methods to reach and take advantage of Australian investors.
'More and more, we are seeing social media platforms being used to lure victims into investment scams. According to the most recent Targeting Scams report, online scams have increased by 130% over the previous year, and this reflects an increase in both email and social media-based scams.
'The scams reported to ASIC generally involve unsolicited phone calls or emails offering investment opportunities with attractive returns. These investment scams can come across as very professional and are often supported by sophisticated and genuine looking websites and social media advertising. If you receive an unsolicited investment offer, the best way to avoid being a victim of a scam is to hang up the phone and don't respond to the emails.
There are a number of ways for consumers to check the legitimacy of a company, it is important to check the list of companies you should not deal with and the person offering the investment should be able to answer a series of questions, such as:
- What is your name and what company do you represent?
- Who owns your company?
- Does your company or scheme have an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) or an Australian credit licence (ACL) and what is the licence number? Check this number on ASIC's Professional Registers.
- What is your address?
If they can't answer these questions, hang up the phone, delete the email or stop dealing with the person. Make sure you block them on social media platforms so they cannot contact you or your social communities and delete or remove ads for financial products from your social feed.
'It's important not to let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments and to not invest in something you don't understand. Get a second opinion from licensed financial advisers' Mr Kell said. 'And if you think you’ve been scammed, contact your financial institution immediately'.
You can report investment scams to ASIC online or by calling 1300 300 630.
Visit ASIC's MoneySmart website for more tips on avoiding investment scams.
If you have concerns about other types of scams visit the Scamwatch website.
ASIC is the Australian Government agency responsible for financial literacy, consistent with its strategic priority to promote confidence and trust in the financial system. We support the financial capability of Australians to improve their financial knowledge and skills and develop the attitudes and behaviours to make good financial decisions.
ASIC leads and coordinates the National Financial Literacy Strategy, which sets out a national framework for financial literacy work in Australia. The Strategy highlights the importance of providing people with tailored resources and tools, and of responding to the financial issues facing vulnerable sectors of the community. People experiencing high financial stress and crisis are identified as one of a number of priority audiences in the National Strategy.
ASIC's MoneySmart website provides trusted and impartial financial guidance and tools to help Australians of all ages manage their money and make informed financial decisions.