Spike in internet fraud and identity theft, police warn

POLICE from Richmond Local Area Command have warned that there has been a recent increase in fraud-related crime, particularly computer/internet fraud or identity theft.

With the advancements in technology most families have computers, the internet, credit cards and online banking, police said, and while these facilities can make our busy lives easier, this convenience can also make us more vulnerable to criminals.

Ballina Detective Sergeant Mick Smith said a common method being used in Australia that has targeted persons in this area is where a victim receives a call from a male or female claiming to be an employee of a phone company, internet company or even the victim's banking facility.

"The offender informs the victim that there is a problem with their telephone/internet/or bank account and offers to sell a program or update for a small fee that will fix the problem," Det Sgt Smith said.

"They then ask for the victim's credit card details or online banking details to pay for the fee.

"Once those details are revealed to the offender they have the victim's credit card or banking details, which they either use to create a duplicate card or use for online or internet purchases."

Some victims have lost thousands of dollars to this scam, he said.

"Remember, your bank will not need your credit card details.

"Our advice is if you receive one of these calls either ask for the caller's contact details and/or offer to ring them back," Sergeant Smith said.

"Then check and see if the contact details match the company they claim to be from.

"You can also do this quite easily by searching the net.

"Most legitimate organisations also have after hours contact numbers," Det Sgt Smith said.