Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Reece Kershaw has told Senate Estimates even his family has fallen victim to those pesky voice scams, believing someone from Telstra was reaching out for a non-criminal and completely valid reason. We can poke fun, but with click-through rates so high on text message scams and everyone having a story about a dodgy call they received, there’s more of us in the same boat.
We all know the scams: a text message saying there’s missing info on a parcel delivery and a call from an Aussie mobile that tells you they’re Home Affairs and that your identity was stolen.
“I get multiple [calls] a day, I’ve tried even multiple different numbers and everything, but they seem to be able to find [me],” Kershaw said.
On text message scams, the AFP boss said, “I’m only one click away, and a couple of times I’ve gone ‘oh, DHL, great’ but realised no, because they somehow often time it when your package is due”.
While Kershaw said he almost has fallen prey to a scam, he said someone is his family actually has – resulting in them parting with some cash. Yikes.
“In my family we had some issues where a company purported to be Telstra – wasn’t Telstra – and managed to get away with some funds. It’s touching all of us. I think all of us have stories like that.”
The severity, and sheer number, of scams floating around Australia at the moment has given the AFP an idea: they are about to gear up against ‘cyber’ and launch an AFP scam arm.
“We’re actually going through an internal review of how can we be more aggressive in cyber and it may mean a mini restructure internally for us to really have a what we would call a cyber offensive operation arm of the AFP,” he explained.
The AFP will also be fighting scams through the controversial Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Act 2021, also known as the ‘hacking bill’, that just recently passed. Kershaw said he’s keen to fight this ‘pet hate’ of his with these new powers.
The main takeaway here is: do not click on a link unless you are absolutely certain as to the source and don’t trust those recordings that are clearly not the ATO or your telco provider.