7 September 2015 

Warning: scams targeting Local Aboriginal Land Councils 

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) is aware of a number of scams that may be targeting Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) in New South Wales. 

Scams present themselves as genuine businesses offering a service or product. However, their aim is to dishonestly obtain money or something else of value. This may be bank details, money or personal information. 

NSWALC understands one company has been targeting LALCs with offers to advertise in an online directory. 

This offer will usually start as an unsolicited telephone call, followed by a letter "confirming" the LALC's intention to sign up to the offer. 

The letter may be called a "business to business agreement" or "verification of proposal" and on signing it, a LALC will receive a number of invoices requesting payments, as well as continual offers to sign up for extra advertisements. 

Any request by a LALC to terminate its association with the business will be ignored. 

Australian consumer protection agencies have also launched a campaign to protect Aboriginal consumers from signing up for funeral plans that are expensive, complex and not suitable to their needs. NSW Fair Trading has warned that many Aboriginal Australians were often targeted by dodgy traders and had lost significant amounts of money as a result. 

NSW Fair Trading has also warned that Aboriginal communities on the NSW Mid-North Coast were being targeted by cold-calling marketers going door-to-door promising free iPads or laptops in return for signing up to training courses. 

Scams appear in various disguises so it is important to be aware of the most common types and how they operate. 

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, it may be a scam: 

·      Have you been offered an overpriced product or service?

·      Have you been offered a product of service which does not function as promised?

·      Have you received products you did not request in the mail along with an invoice requesting payment?

·      Have you received a "renewal notice" to a service you have never heard of before?

·      Have you received invoices requesting payment for services you did not sign up for?

 

To protect yourself from scams, it is important to: 

·      Check with other LALC staff about their communication with the business - for example by asking if they ordered or signed up to any products or services

·      Keep personal details secure

·      Beware of any request for details or money

·      Choose passwords carefully

 

If you are contacted by a scam, do not respond. Although they can be very persistent, their persistence will only increase if they obtain what they are after. 

If you have been affected by a scam, contact your LALC support officer in the first instance, as you may be able to receive assistance and support. 

You should also report the scam to Scamwatch to prevent other people from falling victim. 

Scams can be reported by calling 1300 795 995 and online at https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam 

For a more detailed overview of the most common types of scams, please read the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's newsletter at: http://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Small%20business%20scams%20fact%20sheet.pdf 

NSW Fair Trading has produced a video to help people make informed choices about funeral services. The Avoid a Funeral Ripoff video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o03qrVUnqo4 

Complaints can also be lodged via NSW Fair Trading's hotline on 1800 500 330, in person at any Service NSW Service Centre and via www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au