Message scam targeting loved ones
If a family member sends you a message saying they have a new number or asking for money, you should treat it with suspicion - here's why.
Caroline avatar
Written by Caroline
Updated this week

There's a new update to the text scam that's going around that's targeting families on WhatsApp and through text messages. In the new version of the scam, people receive a text message claiming to be from a parent asking to borrow some money, followed by bank account details for the transfer. This follows on from the previous scam where people impersonate victims' loved ones, saying that their phone has been dropped or smashed to justify using a new number. The scammer then asks for financial assistance and to transfer money to a new account.

Updated SMS Message

The new scam messages are appearing in a thread from a contact titled “Mum” or “Dad” - making it appear more convincing than a text message from a random number. They ask to borrow money and will claim that they will pay you back, including their bank account details for you to transfer the money.

SMS Message

The SMS message sent by scammers will usually say that they are texting from a new mobile number as their phone was lost or damaged, and will ask for money to purchase a new device, or claim that they need money urgently to pay a bill.

The scammer won't use any identifying information, including their own name, instead referencing themselves as 'your eldest child' as well as saying things like 'hi Mum and hi Dad.' If you ask to call them, they'll often come up with an excuse, such as their phone doesn't work or there's something wrong with video chat.

What to do

In order to make sure you don't get tricked, it's important to stay aware and if something feels off, to verify that the message is actually coming from a loved one.

In order to avoid the scam you must:

  • Note down the number that messaged you, but do not send any money until you can verify and confirm that this is your family member

  • Call or text your family member's mobile to verify

  • If you can't get through to the number, check with another family member

  • If you do discover it's a scam, report it to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch

  • If you are a Telstra customer, forward the SMS/MMS scam to 7226. They won’t send you a reply message, but will use the information to block scammers from reaching other people. You won’t be charged for sending this SMS. If you can't remember 7226, just remember that the numbers spell S-C-A-M.

Queensland Police Detective Superintendent Mike Newman also suggested that people should set up a multi-factor authentication with family members to have a cyber security password. This allows for confirmation of the person's identity.

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Information sourced from Scamwatch, 7News and Nine

Image credit: Adem AY on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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