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Been scammed? Here's how to financially recover

<p>Many people feel shame and embarrassment after realising they have been scammed. But you shouldn’t. You did nothing wrong; you are the victim of a crime. </p> <p>Not only are such feelings bad for your mental wellbeing, but they also often stop people reporting the scam or taking action to avoid further losses. </p> <p>Remember too that you’re not alone: victims reported more than 601,000 scams to the ACCC in 2023, together losing a staggering $2.74 billion. People of all ages, professions, and backgrounds have been affected. </p> <p>As hard as it may be, try to leave emotion aside and approach this like any other money matter – logically and methodically. Doing so will help you act faster and more decisively, which is crucial to your financial recovery. </p> <p>The following checklist will help you through this process:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 1 – Try to recoup your stolen money</strong></li> </ul> <p>Report the scam immediately. Contact your bank or card provider to stop the transaction being processed. Notify the company or marketplace where it occurred – they may have options to reverse the payment or for you to claim compensation for fraud. </p> <p>Also inform the ACCC’s Scamwatch and police if relevant, which may aid in tracking down the scammer and will help them alert the wider public on what to look out for. </p> <p>Unfortunately, the money is likely gone for good, but prompt action may just help you get some or all of it back. </p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 2 – Secure your accounts from further thefts</strong></li> </ul> <p>Once scammers have found a way to steal money, they often go back to try for more. Don’t let them! </p> <p>Freeze or cancel affected debit and credit cards, accounts etc. Change and strengthen all your passwords. Set up two-factor authentication if you haven’t already. Remove any suspicious applications on electronic devices. </p> <p>Double check the registrations of any business, adviser or tradesperson before engaging their services. Regularly check your superannuation, investments etc. to monitor for any inconsistencies.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 3 – Safeguard your cash flow</strong></li> </ul> <p>Don’t multiplying your losses by racking up new debts to cover the stolen money. That means limiting the use of credit cards, payday lenders and Buy Now, Pay Later schemes. Consider paying with cash instead to help you stick to a budget.</p> <p>If you have lost everything, register with Centrelink for income support. You may also be able to apply for hardship provisions with your bank, phone and energy providers and other essential services.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 4 – Get reputable advice</strong></li> </ul> <p>Legal advice may be able to get you out of bogus contracts, like loans or phone plans, and help you in the event your personal information has been stolen (which can be used in various ways to steal money). If you can’t afford a lawyer, there are free alternatives such as Legal Aid or Community Legal Centres. Specialist services such as the Women’s Legal Service may offer support where partner coercion or domestic abuse is involved.</p> <p>Accounting and financial advice may also help you navigate assistance options and longer term recovery efforts.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 5 – Rebuild your finances</strong></li> </ul> <p>Your ability to rebuild your finances after a scam will depend on a range of factors, including how much was lost plus your age and circumstances.</p> <p>You could seek to increase your earnings and/or cut your spending by tweaking your household budget, delaying retirement, or temporarily taking a second job to boost your income. </p> <p>Another option is to make your remaining finances work harder than before, such as adjusting your investment strategies (e.g. changing your risk weightings or selling assets) including within your superannuation or accessing equity in your home.</p> <p>If you’re a self-funded retiree, you may now qualify for a part or full pension if your scam losses push your total assets below the means test threshold.</p> <p>Ultimately, the most important things when dealing with the fallout from a scam is to look after yourself and protect what you have left.</p> <p>Scammers have already taken off with your dollars. Don’t let them steal your sense too!</p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au/">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal financial or product advice. Any opinions or views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations the owner may be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Helen Baker is an authorised representative of BPW Partners Pty Ltd AFSL 548754.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Aussies warned over new nbn scam

<p>Aussies have been warned against a new nbn scam targeting businesses and residents. </p> <p>Last year,  about 1,800 Australians lost more than $1.2 million to scammers pretending to be nbn employees in a remote access scam. </p> <p>Now, they have found a new way to scam unsuspecting businesses and residents by pretending to be employees and getting people to hand over their personal details and money in areas where <em>actual</em> nbn employees are working. </p> <p>The opportunistic scammers have been randomly knocking on doors or cold calling homes in areas where nbn technicians are installing new fibre. </p> <p>A few people have already been duped, with nbn impersonators calling customers claiming they need money to pay for new internet hardware or postage costs. </p> <p>Scammers have also offered to inspect people's homes for a nbn fibre upgrade and took their bank account details in the process. </p> <p>Other impersonators have called customers saying they would show up a few days later, despite having no prior appointment booked. </p> <p>Scammers have also impersonated staff, and used the presence of actual nbn vehicles on the street as proof of their authenticity. </p> <p>“These impersonators are also asking residents for payment to test their services or secure upgrades and repair works in the future,” nbn Local head Chris Cusack said. </p> <p>“In taking the payment these people are then skimming banking and card details to extract more money afterwards.</p> <p>“We are asking residents to be extra-vigilant against scams, especially while legitimate nbn work is underway.”</p> <p>Nbn has advised that their technicians would always contact people to ensure they were aware of visits before their appointments, and inform them of where they will be doing fibre upgrades. </p> <p>They also send their customers texts to confirm or cancel the appointment, and let them know when they are on their way. </p> <p>Nbn technicians never ask for payment for an appointment, postage costs, hardware costs, or access to any devices. </p> <p>Approved technicians and workers all carry identification cards, and the nbn Local head suggested that customers should always request to see the card before providing access to their residence. </p> <p>“Do not share your bank or personal details with an unsolicited caller or with people who door knock claiming to be from nbn trying to sell you an nbn service or seeking payment for related services,” Cusack said.</p> <p>“If you get contacted like this, please close your door, or hang up the phone and report it to the ACCC’s Scam watch.”</p> <p><em>Images: news.com.au</em></p>

Legal

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Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest's major win over scam ads

<p>Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has had a major win against Facebook owner Meta, with a US court allowing him to continue to sue the platform over fake advertisements using his name. </p> <p>The scam Facebook ads show him promoting fake cryptocurrency and other fraudulent investments.</p> <p>The ruling means that the court will consider whether Meta breached its duty by publishing the advertisements, and whether they operated in a way that facilitated scam ads by using defective screening and review procedures.</p> <p>US District Judge Casey Pitts in San Jose, California, made the decision on Monday, and said that Forrest can try to prove Meta's negligence and whether his name and likeness was misappropriated by Meta, and not just by fraudsters behind the bogus ads.</p> <p>"Dr Forrest claims that Meta profited more from ads that included his likeness than it would have if the ads had not," Pitts wrote.</p> <p>"This is enough to adequately plead that the alleged misappropriation was to Meta's advantage."</p> <p>Forrest said that there were over 1000 ads scam ads using his name that appeared on Facebook in Australia between April and November 2023, leading to millions of dollars in losses for victims.</p> <p>The billionaire reportedly first raised the fraudulent advertisements with Meta back in 2014, but nothing happened, according to the <em>Herald Sun. </em></p> <p>This is the first time a social media company was unable to invoke Section 230 immunity in a US civil case over its advertising business. </p> <p>It's a significant move, as social media companies in the US are usually immune from liability in the US for content posted by third parties. </p> <p>"This is a crucial strategic victory in the battle to hold Facebook accountable," Forrest said.</p> <p>The billionaire is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. </p> <p><em>Image: Dinendra Haria/LNP/ Shutterstock Editorial</em></p>

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Cafe targeted online for charging customer a "heating fee"

<p>A cafe in Melbourne has copped a wave of backlash online after allegedly charging a customer to heat up his muffin for breakfast. </p> <p>The disgruntled diner took to Facebook to complain about the extra fee on his $7 muffin at the cafe and claimed the first he knew of it was when he saw it on his receipt.</p> <p>His post went viral with hundreds of people slamming café etiquette and urging him to go to the ACCC.</p> <p>"A f***ing dollar to heat my muffin? It's cr*p like this that just makes you shake your head and question where it is all going," the customer wrote in his original post.</p> <p>The cafe has since hit back at the post, and the angry customer who wrote it, saying the extra charge had been an error despite Heat Standard $1.00 being written on the receipt.</p> <p>They also said the customer could have simply solved the issue in person rather than blasting them online.</p> <p>"We do not nor have we ever charged for any heating of our wonderful baked treats," the café spokesperson told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/real-life/article-13465591/Melbourne-cafe-targeted-angry-mob-charging-1-heating-fee-muffin-Aussies-reveal-hidden-charges-theyve-hit-amid-cost-living-crisis.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>.</p> <p>"Unfortunately this has become a mountain of an issue that could have easily been resolved without a lynch mob caused by negligence at the hands of an influential keyboard warrior who ironically sells the idea of spiritual life practices and being grounded yet flipped out over a muffin."</p> <p>The original post racked up more than 870 comments before it was deleted, and more than 1,000 reactions.</p> <p>Some of those who saw it went on to slam the cafe by sending them threatening messages, commenting on posts on Instagram and calling their business phone to hurl abuse. </p> <p>"It's a sad world when a local cafe that aims for nothing more then customer satisfaction and community values to be upheld gets threatening messages from rogue vigilantes about wanting to see us go out of business over a muffin being prepared and served to quality standards," the cafe owners said.</p> <p>The cafe responded to the growing backlash online by announcing their muffins would be free on Tuesday.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font" style="margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px; min-height: 0px;"><em>Image credits: Facebook / Shutterstock </em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Worried your address, birth date or health data is being sold? You should be – and the law isn’t protecting you

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australians don’t know and can’t control how data brokers are spreading their personal information. This is the core finding of a newly <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Digital-platform-services-inquiry-March-2024-interim-report.pdf">released report</a> from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).</p> <p>Consumers wanting to rent a property, get an insurance quote or shop online are not given real choices about whether their personal data is shared for other purposes. This exposes Australians to scams, fraud, manipulation and discrimination.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/consumers-lack-visibility-and-choice-over-data-collection-practices">many don’t even know</a> what kind of data has been collected about them and shared or sold by data firms and other third parties.</p> <p>Our privacy laws are due for reform. But Australia’s privacy commissioner <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">should also enforce</a> an existing rule: with very limited exceptions, businesses must not collect information about you from third parties.</p> <h2>What are data brokers?</h2> <p><a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">Data brokers</a> generally make their profits by collecting information about individuals from various sources and sharing this personal data with their many business clients. This can include detailed profiles of a person’s family, health, finances and movements.</p> <p>Data brokers often have no connection with the individual – you may not even recognise the name of a firm that holds vast amounts of information on you. Some of these data brokers are large multinational companies with billions of dollars in revenue.</p> <p>Consumer and privacy advocates provided the ACCC with evidence of highly concerning data broker practices. <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Salinger%20Privacy.pdf">One woman</a> tried to find out how data brokers had got hold of her information after receiving targeted medical advertising.</p> <p>Although she never discovered how they obtained her data, she found out it included her name, date of birth and contact details. It also included inferences about her, such as her retiree status, having no children, not having “high affluence” and being likely to donate to a charity.</p> <p>ACCC found another data broker was reportedly creating lists of individuals who may be experiencing vulnerability. The categories included:</p> <ul> <li>children, teenage girls and teenage boys</li> <li>“financially unsavvy” people</li> <li>elderly people living alone</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>religious minorities</li> <li>unemployed people</li> <li>people in financial distress</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>people experiencing pain or who have visited certain medical facilities.</li> </ul> <p>These are all potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited, for example, by scammers or unscrupulous advertisers.</p> <h2>How do they get this information?</h2> <p>The ACCC notes <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/CPRC-working-paper-Not-a-fair-trade-March-2025.pdf">74% of Australians are uncomfortable</a> with their personal information being shared or sold.</p> <p>Nonetheless, data brokers sell and share Australian consumers’ personal information every day. Businesses we deal with – for example, when we buy a car or search for natural remedies on an online marketplace – both buy data about us from data brokers and provide them with more.</p> <p>The ACCC acknowledges consumers haven’t been given a choice about this.</p> <p>Attempting to read every privacy term is near impossible. The ACCC referred to a recent study which found it would take consumers <a href="https://www.mi-3.com.au/06-11-2023/aussies-face-10-hour-privacy-policy-marathon-finds-study">over 46 hours a month</a> to read every privacy policy they encounter.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The approximate length and time it would take to read an average privacy policy in Australia per month.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/serial-publications/digital-platform-services-inquiry-2020-25-reports/digital-platform-services-inquiry-interim-report-march-2024">ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry interim report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Even if you could read every term, you still wouldn’t get a clear picture. Businesses use <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">vague wording</a> and data descriptions which <a href="https://theconversation.com/70-of-australians-dont-feel-in-control-of-their-data-as-companies-hide-behind-meaningless-privacy-terms-224072">confuse consumers</a> and have no fixed meaning. These include “pseudonymised information”, “hashed email addresses”, “aggregated information” and “advertising ID”.</p> <p>Privacy terms are also presented on a “take it or leave it” basis, even for transactions like applying for a rental property or buying insurance.</p> <p>The ACCC pointed out 41% of Australians feel they have been <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/consumers-and-data/data-collection-and-use/how-your-data-is-used/articles/choice-renttech-report-release">pressured to use “rent tech” platforms</a>. These platforms collect an increasing range of information with questionable connection to renting.</p> <h2>A first for Australian consumers</h2> <p>This is the first time an Australian regulator has made an in-depth report on the consumer data practices of data brokers, which are generally hidden from consumers. It comes <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/data-brokers-call-transparency-accountability-report-federal-trade-commission-may-2014/140527databrokerreport.pdf">ten years after</a> the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a similar inquiry into data brokers in the US.</p> <p>The ACCC report examined the data practices of nine data brokers and other “data firms” operating in Australia. (It added the term “data firms” because some companies sharing data about people argue that they are not data brokers.)</p> <p>A big difference between the Australian and the US reports is that the FTC is both the consumer watchdog and the <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312913">privacy regulator</a>. As our competition and consumer watchdog, the ACCC is meant to focus on competition and consumer issues.</p> <p>We also need our privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), to pay attention to these findings.</p> <h2>There’s a law against that</h2> <p>The ACCC report shows many examples of businesses collecting personal information about us from third parties. For example, you may be a customer of a business that only has your name and email address. But that business can purchase “<a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">data enrichment</a>” services from a data broker to find out your age range, income range and family situation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2004A03712/latest/text">current Privacy Act</a> includes <a href="https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/australian-privacy-principles/read-the-australian-privacy-principles">a principle</a> that organisations must collect personal information only from the individual (you) unless it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so. “Impracticable” means practically impossible. This is the direct collection rule.</p> <p>Yet there is no reported case of the privacy commissioner enforcing the direct collection rule against a data broker or its business customers. Nor has the OAIC issued any specific guidance in this respect. It should do both.</p> <h2>Time to update our privacy laws</h2> <p>Our privacy law was drafted in 1988, long before this complex web of digital data practices emerged. Privacy laws in places such as California and the European Union provide much stronger protections.</p> <p>The government has <a href="https://ministers.ag.gov.au/media-centre/speeches/privacy-design-awards-2024-02-05-2024">announced</a> it plans to introduce a privacy law reform bill this August.</p> <p>The ACCC report reinforces the need for vital amendments, including a direct right of action for individuals and a rule requiring dealings in personal information to be “fair and reasonable”.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230540/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law &amp; Justice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-your-address-birth-date-or-health-data-is-being-sold-you-should-be-and-the-law-isnt-protecting-you-230540">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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"I felt duped": 95-year-old loses $1.6 million in bank scam

<p>A 95-year-old has been left feeling "sick" after she was scammed out of $1.6 million by heartless scammers claiming to be a bank. </p> <p>In November last year, Harriet Spring received a call from a man who called himself George Thompson, and said he worked for ING Bank. </p> <p>The man gained Harriet's trust over several months, at the difficult time that the great-grandmother was handling the sale of her mother's house.</p> <p>"Over time, I completely thought he was from ING, I had no reason to believe he wasn't," she told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/95-year-old-great-grandmother-loses-more-than-1-million-life-savings-to-scammers/f41540e7-f5c9-4c3b-89a7-ac94dd81bf6a" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"George" then convinced Harriet the money from the sale of the house could build interest in an ING account, but it was actually being held by Westpac Bank.</p> <p>"It sounds implausible now, but the scammer had me convinced and I told my mother's bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, that this was an ING fixed term deposit, but it was being put in the Westpac bank," she said.</p> <p>"I put down the BSB number and the account number and what I thought was my name attached to the account, (my mother's bank) pointed out that it seems strange and ING account would be held with Westpac, but they still went ahead and authorised the transfer."</p> <p>When Harriet realised the scammers had taken hold of her life savings totalling $1.6 million, she felt "sick". </p> <p>"Obviously my world just fell out from under me - I just felt sick," she said.</p> <p>"I felt utterly responsible, I felt duped, foolish, ashamed - a lot of shame associated with it and I think that's why a lot of people don't come forward and talk about this kind of thing."</p> <p>Harriet has shared her story as a warning for others to be wary of potential scammers, while also calling on banks to have better protocols in place to stop suspicious transactions from going through. </p> <p>"Someone with basic training from the bank would have known that ING don't bank with any other banks and they should have flagged it," she said.</p> <p>"I believe the reality is that the banks 100 per cent put the blame on the victims and they minimise their own liability."</p> <p>"There should be some sort of system for compensating victims, the banks don't commit the theft, but they certainly drive the getaway car and they need to be held responsible for being complicit with this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

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How to avoid 6 common tourist scams

<p>Often when people are on holidays their focus is on relaxing or seeing the sights of the area. But if you don’t keep your wits about you, it’s possible you might end up losing everything to scammers who will do anything to get their hands on your belongings.</p> <p>Here we have six common scams to look out for while you are travelling abroad.</p> <p><strong>Scam 1:</strong> You are in a busy bar in a tourist friendly area when some locals ask where you’re from and offer to buy you a drink. Without thinking, you accept the drink and then find yourself waking up hours later without any of your belongings as you’ve had your drink spiked.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> If people seem too friendly, be aware that they may be scammers. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know, and don’t leave your drink unattended to use the bathroom.</p> <p><strong>Scam 2:</strong> You are about to put your handbag and computer on the conveyer belt to go through the scanner. The people in front of you walk through the metal detector and while one goes through, the other sets off the alarms. They step back into where you are standing and take their time removing wallets and coins from their pockets. While you are waiting for your turn to walk through the metal detector, the other person has taken your belongings and is long gone.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Don’t place your items on the conveyer belt until there is no one else waiting in front of you to go through the metal detector.</p> <p><strong>Scam 3:</strong> In a busy area such as after a concert or a busy night like New Year’s Eve it can be impossible to get public transport or a taxi back to your hotel. A friendly looking guy comes by and offers you a lift for a reasonable fee using his private car. The scam itself can then range from being charged an exorbitant amount when you arrive at your hotel – or you could even find yourself robbed and dropped by the side of the road with no way home.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> However tempting it is, never get in the car with an unlicensed taxi driver. This is even more important to note if you are travelling alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 4:</strong> While you are waiting with your luggage for a train or bus, a passer-by appears to drop their wallet and walk off without noticing. You might try to do the right thing by grabbing the wallet and running after the person to return it. By the time you get back, your luggage is missing.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> When travelling alone, never leave your items unattended even if it means you don’t help someone when you normally would. This is especially true in airports where baggage will quickly be confiscated if left alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 5:</strong> You’re taking in the sights when a couple of men dressed as policemen approach you. They demand to see your wallet and let you know that counterfeit money has been given to tourists in the area. When your wallet is returned it has had much of the contents removed.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Police would never demand to see your wallet. If something doesn’t feel right, suggest that you continue the discussion at the nearest police station as you don’t feel comfortable. Most likely they will not push their luck.</p> <p><strong>Scam 6:</strong> You receive a phone call in your hotel room late at night from someone claiming to be from the front desk. They apologise for the late call but request that you just confirm your credit card details as their system is playing up. You read out the numbers and hang up. Before too long your credit card has rung up a huge bill as this was a scammer calling you, not a staff member.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Organise payment in person by letting the caller know that you will come down to the front desk to discuss it.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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Kochie's thoughtful act for scam victim

<p>David Koch has given back to a hard-working Aussie who lost her life savings to a convincing scam. </p> <p>For many years, scammers have been using the likeness of Australian celebrities to con people out of their money. </p> <p>Kochie is just one of many high-profile personalities who have had their identities used to run convincing scams, that thousands of people have fallen victim to. </p> <p>The former <em>Sunrise</em> host has often taken to social media to warn people of the illegitimate ads, but it hasn't been enough to stop the scammers in their tracks. </p> <p>In a special <em>7News Spotlight</em> investigation, Kochie joined the team to lift the lid on the multi-billion-dollar scam industry in which fake advertisements featuring well-known celebrities have been used to con more than 600,000 Aussies.</p> <p>“It’s devastating because it’s my reputation on the line,” says Koch.</p> <p>“And these scams are so good, they’re so believable that people who trust me look at me and say, ‘Wow, I’m getting some comfort out of what this bloke is saying,’ and then are ripped off by some scammer from overseas.”</p> <p>Koch is desperately trying to stop this criminal act, saying, “I’ve reported it to the ACCC and ASIC. I’m part of an ACCC case against Meta at the moment surrounding these scam ads.”</p> <p>As part of the investigation, Kochie met Allison, who lost $250,000 when she invested her money in what she thought was a reputable company, fronted by who she believed to be the former <em>Sunrise</em> host.</p> <p>As an avid Port Adelaide supporter, she trusts Koch, who is also the Chairman of the football club.</p> <p>“Port Adelaide members are all part of a big family,” says Koch. “And the fact that these scammers use my association with the club to prey on members is just abhorrent.”</p> <p>After losing her savings, Allison has been struggling to make ends meet, and is on a payment plan so she can stay as a member of the AFL club she loves.</p> <p>After learning of her story, Koch himself has stepped in and ensured she has lifelong membership.</p> <p>“It’s the least we can do,” says Koch to Allison. “Because, football has got to be your haven.”</p> <p>Allison is just one of the many victims of complex scams in Australia, with reporter Sarah Greenhalgh believes millions of dollars have been illegally stolen.</p> <p>“The scammers successfully prey on these people’s unique vulnerabilities and the victims’ lives have changed forever as a result,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News Spotlight</em></p>

Money & Banking

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War veteran loses $18,000 to Netflix scam

<p>Shane Arnold, 71, was left with nothing after he fell for an elaborate Netflix scam, allegedly run by a teenager. </p> <p>The war veteran was robbed of $18,000 when he thought he was entitled to a refund after receiving a fake Netflix email.</p> <p>After he entered his personal banking details, the accused scammer allegedly used this information to call Arnold the following day claiming to be a security officer from Commonwealth Bank.</p> <p>"(It was) extremely convincing," Arnold told <em>9News</em>. </p> <p>"He spoke in a posh English accent."</p> <p>Arnold was allegedly told by a 19-year-old, whose voice had been disguised with AI, that his account had been compromised and ordered to put his bank cards in a bag, to be collected by a driver.</p> <p>Hours later, the accused teen who is from Braybrook, Melbourne allegedly withdrew thousands of dollars from ATMs in Braybrook and West Footscray, and purchased dozens of gift cards from Kmart.</p> <p>He also allegedly filled up on fuel, bought a new iPhone, and some strawberry milk and ice cream. </p> <p>The teen has since been charged over the incident, but Arnold is still fighting hard to get his money back. </p> <p>"I've worked for 50-odd years to get that money," he told the publication, adding that he felt "like my heart had been ripped out".</p> <p>The senior also claimed that the bank was partly to blame, and has lodged a report to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) who are currently managing his case. </p> <p>Arnold added that Commonwealth Bank had only offered to reimburse him $1000, and said that everyone who'd been scammed deserved to have their money returned to them.</p> <p>"I hope all those people get their money back," he said.</p> <p>"None of them deserved to be scammed and none of them did anything wrong."</p> <p><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

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"It was devastating": Grandfather loses $1 million in scam before his death

<p>A "vulnerable" and "lonely" grandfather lost over $1 million in a complex scam in the months before he died, with his son now issuing a warning to others. </p> <p>Adrian Heartsch was described by his family as a "frugal" man, who had no experience with online banking before becoming involved in the scam. </p> <p>“Unless he knew exactly what he was paying for – he wouldn’t pay for it,” his son Simon Heartsch told <em>A Current Affair</em>.</p> <p>“I said to him if somebody can scam you, they can scam anybody.”</p> <p>He soon connected with someone online, who called themselves a woman named Vida and charmed him with sweet talk and pet names, and soon earned his trust.</p> <p>“He wasn’t alone, but he was lonely. He had no company, he didn’t even have his dog anymore to talk to,” his son told <em>ACA</em>. “So I guess he’s vulnerable in that way.”</p> <p>The woman convinced Mr Heartsch to send her several Apple gift cards, claiming he would be given over $20 million worth of gold bars or gold bullion in return.</p> <p>She also promised the grandfather that she would come to Australia and live “happily ever after” with him. </p> <p>Simon only discovered the truth about his father's finance and the long-running scam when Adrian landed in hospital. </p> <p>“We brought up these emails that were just gobsmacking,” he said. “The story grew from $300,000 to $600,000 to up and up and up … over a million dollars.”</p> <p>The ruse had been going on for three years, and saw Mr Heartsch buy up to $10,000 worth of Apple gift cards from several shops in a single day. </p> <p>Simon said his father was “mortified” after learning the truth and didn’t want to pursue a case with the police.</p> <p>The scam cost the 77-year-old almost everything, robbing him of his savings, truck and caravan, leaving him with only his home. </p> <p>Shortly after, Mr Heartsch fell “sicker and sicker” as his health deteriorated, and he passed away a month after his family learned of the scam.</p> <p>“It was like all this was the nail in the coffin, it was devastating for him, his whole life savings he’s lost,” said Simon.</p> <p>Adrian's family went searching for answers, and with the help of a cyber security expert, discovered that the scammer was operating out of Ghana in West Africa. </p> <p>Following his father’s death, Simon urged others to watch out for loved ones who may be vulnerable to “horrible” scammers. </p> <p>“They’re ruining peoples’ lives. They’re speeding up people’s deaths,” he said. “They’re preying on the vulnerable.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

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“Unbelievably legitimate”: Deb Knight falls victim to popular scam

<p>Deb Knight has shared how she fell victim to a popular scam, losing $1,200 while trying to get Taylor Swift tickets for her daughter's birthday. </p> <p>Like many people around Australia, the veteran journalist was eager to get her hands on tickets to the highly anticipated Eras Tour as a once in a lifetime surprise for her eight-year-old daughter's birthday present.</p> <p>After missing out on tickets through all official channels, Deb thought hope was lost, until a friend reached out to her. </p> <p>“A really good friend, who I’ve known all my life, contacted me and said, ‘do you still want Taylor Swift tickets?’” Knight told <em>A Current Affair</em>.</p> <p>“It was my daughter’s eighth birthday and getting my hands on these tickets would be the best present ever."</p> <p>“My friend put me in contact with her friend who had the tickets – or so I thought.”</p> <p>Knight had received a phone call from her close friend who said her cousin was selling tickets, but unbeknownst to everyone involved, the friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. </p> <p>Deb promised to pay half the cost of the tickets as a bond, then pay the rest after she had seen the tickets, which she said looked “unbelievably legitimate". </p> <p>Tech expert Trevor Long joined Deb on <em>ACA</em>, and noticed one major error about the fake tickets. </p> <p>“The difference is a genuine Taylor Swift ticket in an Apple Wallet right now does not have that barcode.”</p> <p>Alarm bells started ringing for the veteran journalist when the so-called seller said the payment had not come through, but by then it was too late.</p> <p>Deb contacted her bank but it was too late to get her $1,200 back, and her hunt to find Taylor Swift tickets continued. </p> <p>“I realised I’d been scammed. I felt sick to the stomach, absolutely humiliated. I also felt embarrassed and ashamed,” she said.</p> <p>“I was reluctant to speak publicly about this but I think we’ve got to. We have to normalise it so people feel there’s less of a stigma about it."</p> <p>“It happens to everyone, even Deb Knight – it’s disgusting, what’s happening, so something needs to be done.”</p> <p>Police have warned Swifties who missed out on tickets to the singer’s upcoming tour not to fall prey to ticketing scams, and only to purchase tickets through official channels such as Ticketek marketplace. </p> <p>Since tickets for the Eras tour went on sale last June, and subsequently sold out in record timing, Victoria Police said there had been more than 250 reports of ticketing scams for Taylor Swift shows alone.</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Too good to be true": Bank teller saves couple from losing $40k

<p>A Tasmanian couple have been saved from losing $40k into an online investment scam after a bank teller noticed the red flags. </p> <p>The couple visited the NAB branch in Rosny, Hobart after their account was blocked during an attempt to transfer the money to an ‘online investment firm’ in Perth. </p> <p>The payment was the first of two instalments that they were set to pay the "firm" but NAB Customer Advisor Erin Bugg saved them from a massive loss. </p> <p>Bugg became suspicious of the firm after they promised a 12 per cent return on their term deposit  and a guaranteed pay out if the firm went bust. </p> <p>“If there was a scam red flags bingo card, ‘online investment opportunity’ would be top of the list,”  the NAB Customer Advisor said. </p> <p>“Immediately, alarm bells went off for me. It sounded like an investment scam and I was concerned this couple could lose their life savings.” </p> <p>The couple, however, insisted that they weren't being scammed so Bugg decided to look into the matter further and found a website and article about the firm. </p> <p>When she looked into the rates they offered she realised it “was literally too good to be true." </p> <p>“No one likes to be told they’re being lied to, especially when they feel like they’ve done all the right things. They had done their own research, and even spoken to the company on the phone,” she said. </p> <p>She added that "alarm bells" started ringing when the wife explained that a man from the firm kept calling her to thank her for the investment and encourage her to open an account. </p> <p>The couple then rang the "firm" in front of Bugg to try and convince her it was real. </p> <p>“I declined to speak to the ‘firm’, but I could hear them telling the customers, ‘Oh, NAB always flags us as a scam’,’”  she recalled. </p> <p>NAB’s fraud team then informed them that the firm had a bank account at another bank, and to call the bank to confirm whether it was legit. </p> <p>After calling the other bank, they found that the account was not connected to the investment firm and suggested them to not transfer anything. </p> <p>“It was such a relief to hear from the customer that they’d avoided being scammed,” Bugg said. </p> <p>This comes after Scamwatch received  over 7,000 reports of investment scams collectively costing Aussies  over $275 million in the last year. </p> <p><em>Image: NAB </em></p>

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“Imagine being offended by gingerbread": Woolies shopper slammed online

<p>A Woolies customer has come under fire after pointing out a "woke" change in the iconic Christmas cookie. </p> <p>The shopper took to Reddit to slam the Woolworths Bakery for renaming the festive packs of cookies to Gingerbread People, rather than Gingerbread Men.</p> <p>“Woolworths has renamed their biscuits Gingerbread ‘people’,” they wrote in the forum, with a picture of the new label. </p> <p>“Apparently Gingerbread ‘man’ isn’t woke enough.” </p> <p>Instead of people agreeing, many thought he was a weir-dough (pun intended), and said that it was “no big deal”. </p> <p>“I’m trying really hard but too busy caring about my electricity bill doubling in the last year to have energy left over for gingerbread people,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Imagine being offended by gingerbread," another commented. </p> <p>“Seriously? Like if you wanted some gingerbread, you wouldn’t buy them because they’re called people?" a third wrote. </p> <p>“Once again confirming that anyone that actually uses the word ‘woke’ is a pathetic little manbaby," a fourth slammed. </p> <p>Others agreed that it was strange to see people get annoyed about a name change. </p> <p>“And you got so offended you came to Reddit to post about it. Who is the d***head here them or you?”</p> <p>“God I love watching the snowflakes melt over this," responded another. </p> <p>There were only a few people who agreed with the shopper, and said that the supermarket giant had gone too far. </p> <p>“At some point soon I’m just not going to care about offending people. If you can’t handle a biscuit with man in the name, simply grab a box of tissues and retreat to your safe space,” wrote one user. </p> <p>“Jesus Christ. It’s a f***ing biscuit vaguely shaped like a human. Do we need to make a biscuit gender neutral so we don’t offend people?” added another. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty/ Reddit</em></p>

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Aussie grandma and former Greens candidate jailed in Japan claims she was scammed

<p>Donna Nelson, a 57-year-old Perth grandmother, has found herself entangled in a nightmarish situation in a Japanese prison, accused of a crime she vehemently denies.</p> <p>Nelson, an Aboriginal health advocate and former Greens candidate, has been incarcerated for nearly a year without a trial date set, facing allegations of attempting to smuggle two kilograms of meth into Japan. However, her plight is not as straightforward as it may seem, and her family and legal team are tirelessly fighting to clear her name.</p> <p>The ordeal began on January 4, when Nelson was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo. Authorities claimed to have discovered drugs concealed within a false compartment in her luggage. According to the prosecution, a customs officer suspected her of acting suspiciously. But the narrative has taken a complex turn as Nelson's defence team unveiled a shocking revelation: she alleges she was deceived and manipulated by a Nigerian scammer who had groomed her for two years.</p> <p>Since her arrest, Nelson has been confined to Chibu prison, located an hour outside Tokyo. Her living conditions are appalling; she spends 23 hours a day isolated in her cell, showers are allowed only every three days, and communication with other inmates and visitors is strictly prohibited. This form of treatment is a reflection of Japan's infamous "hostage justice" strategy, aimed at coercing confessions from detainees.</p> <p>The only individuals granted access to Nelson are her lawyers, Australian embassy representatives, and a pastor. Legal representatives have identified a significant issue with translation throughout the case, and it could very well hinge on an inaccurate translation by the customs officer at the time of her arrest.</p> <p>Rie Nishida from Shinjuku International Law Firm, one of Nelson's lawyers, explained, "The main evidence from the prosecution is mainly a customs officer who said she acted suspiciously. There's a lot of mistranslation that's also the difficulty in this case."</p> <p>This mistranslation issue is not trivial; it extends to the messages exchanged between Nelson and the man she believed she had a romantic connection with, who ultimately turned out to be a scammer.</p> <p>Matthew Owens, another member of the legal team and a translator for the case, noted, "Some of them were completely wrongly translated, so we had to re-translate those messages and submit them back to the prosecutor."</p> <p>Nelson remains steadfast in her conviction that she is innocent of the accusations against her. Her lawyer,  Owens, relayed her message, saying, "Donna wants to say that she is going to be able to prove her innocence, she's 100 per cent confident of that, and she wants everyone in Australia and the world to know she is innocent."</p> <p>If found guilty, Nelson could face a harrowing 20-year sentence in a Japanese prison, a terrifying prospect for both her and her family. Her five daughters and grandchildren are distraught, but they are not giving up the fight to prove her innocence. They believe they have evidence to substantiate the claim that she was scammed and unjustly accused.</p> <p><em>Image: Australian Greens</em></p>

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1 in 6 older adults fall victim to impersonation scams

<p>More older adults are likely to fall victim to scams than are currently recognised according to new US research. The problems are global. </p> <div class="copy"> <p>A research team from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, US, says older Americans who aren’t cognitively impeded, are also at risk.  </p> <p>In their study <a href="https://10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.35319" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> today in <em>JAMA Network Open</em>, the group reports on a behavioural experiment where they targeted 644 adults aged 64-104 in Rush’s Memory and Aging Project – a local scheme that draws on participants from metropolitan Chicago to participate in research – with a pitch mimicking a real-world impersonation scam. </p> <p>The study’s fictitious ‘US Retirement Protection Task Force’ pitched itself to participants as a government social security initiative.  </p> <p>This USRPTF told participants via either post, email or a telephone call there’d been irregular activity on their Medicare or social security file and the inquiry was a routine account security check. As part of this, the fake agency asked participants to call a telephone hotline or login to a provided website to provide their details.  </p> <p>Over two-thirds of the study failed to respond to any attempts to obtain information by the phoney scheme.  </p> <p>The remainder were evenly split by either responding to requests for contact, but expressing scepticism at the authenticity of the USRPTF, or by responding and engaging with the request for information.  </p> <p>Those who were engaged with the request for information, but expressed doubts, were also those with the highest cognitive performance, and lowest proportion of dementia. They were also the most financially literate participants, while those who provided their details had the lowest literacy. </p> <p>Those who provided details were also found to have the lowest scam awareness of all participants.  </p> <p>Among this group, 1 in 10 willingly provided personal information and 1 in 5 provided details of their social security number.  </p> <p>“If extrapolated to a population level, these numbers are astounding and suggest that a very large number of older adults are at risk of victimisation,” the authors say. </p> <p>They also note that, given the use of a fictitious US government organisation name, the number of people vulnerable to well-organised scams is likely much higher.  </p> <p>Last year, the US National Council on Aging reported 92,371 older Americans were defrauded of a total of US$1.7 billion. Most were victims of government department impersonation, sweepstakes and robocall scams. Often such scams will simply demand payment while ‘spoofing’ the phone number of a government agency to add the veil of legitimacy. </p> <p>It’s a similar story around the world. This year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found Australians lost a record $3.1 billion last year, mostly via phone scams. Australians over 65 years of age accounted for a quarter of losses and reports.  </p> <p>The UK’s Action Fraud initiative found Britons lost about ₤2.35 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, with those aged 50-69 most susceptible to falling victim.  </p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1">&amp;lt;img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Issue-100-embed.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our quarterly print magazine" width="600" height="154" title="1 in 6 older adults fall victim to impersonation scams 2"&amp;gt;</noscript></p> </div> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/1-in-6-older-adults-fall-victim-to-impersonation-scams/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="null">Cosmos</a>. </em></p> </div>

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Hilarious reason dad couldn't be fooled by online scam

<p>One savvy dad has outwitted a scammer who posed as his daughter, after the scammer made one hilarious error. </p> <p>Ian Whitworth, a dad from Sydney, took to his LinkedIn page to share the message a scammer texted him in a classic phishing scam that targets parents. </p> <p>He shared the photo of what he thought was the "funniest phishing text any parent has ever received".</p> <p>The text read, "Hey dad, dropped my phone in the sink while doing the dishes. Its unresponsive this is my new number for now just text me here x."</p> <p>Despite the terrible grammar and punctuation that would immediately alert anyone to the possibility of a scam, it was something else that caught the dad's attention. </p> <p>Instead, Whitworth said it was the fact his daughter would never do the chore mentioned by the scammers.</p> <p>Still, he thought it was worth sharing a photo of the text in a bid to warn others, which he uploaded along with the comment, "Cybersecurity update. I just got this."</p> <p>"Perhaps the funniest phishing txt any parent has ever received. 'Doing the dishes', yeah, for sure."</p> <p>In a reply to one of the people who commented on his post, Whitworth joked that his daughter "at age four emerged from my parents' kitchen with a shocked look on her face. 'What's pop doing?'. He was washing up in the sink."</p> <p>Another commenter wrote, "Haha! There is NO WAY this is from my son or daughter, that's for sure."</p> <p>Another commenter said the giveaway that it wasn't from his own child was that they didn't immediately ask for money, to which Whitworth replied, "Ha, yeah, the phishers are like the seven step ladder of confidence before the money issue gets raised. Actual kids: MONEY NOW."</p> <p>According to the federal government's Scamwatch website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the "Friends/Family Hi Mum" impersonation scam was common.</p> <p>"Scammers send messages pretending to be a family member or a friend desperate for money," it said.</p> <p>"They say they have a new phone and they need you to pay money to help them out of a crisis."</p> <p>Scamwatch warns: "Don't assume a person you are dealing with is who they say they are" and offers the following advice.</p> <p>"If someone you know sends a message to say they have a new phone number, try to call them on the existing number you have for them, or message them on the new number with a question only they would know the answer to," it said.</p> <p>"That way you will know if they are who they say they are."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / LinkedIn</em></p>

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The ‘yes’ Voice campaign is far outspending ‘no’ in online advertising, but is the message getting through?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrea-carson-924">Andrea Carson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/max-gromping-1466451">Max Grömping</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-strating-129115">Rebecca Strating</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-jackman-310245">Simon Jackman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>With early voting set to open next week for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum, this is a critical time for campaigners to win over voters.</p> <p>If the <a href="https://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n11054/pdf/ch01.pdf">2022 federal election</a> is anything to go by, Australians have developed a taste for early voting, with fewer than half of all voters actually going to a polling station on election day.</p> <p>If the same voting patterns apply to the referendum, this means more than half of Australians, particularly <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/government-and-opposition/article/correlates-of-early-voting/49D19E94A1D26F9AFE1B72DCB56AFF3F">older voters</a>, may have cast a vote before voting day on October 14.</p> <h2>What’s happening in the polls?</h2> <p>Public polls indicate support for the “yes” campaign continues to decline, despite, as we’ve shown below, huge spending on advertising and extensive media coverage of its message.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://simonjackman.github.io/poll_averaging_voice_2023/poll_averaging.html">Professor Simon Jackman’s</a> averaging of the polls, “no” currently leads “yes” by 58% to 42% nationally. If this lead holds, the result would be <a href="https://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/1999_referendum_reports_statistics/1999.htm">even more lopsided</a> than the 1999 republic referendum defeat, where the <a href="https://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/1999_referendum_reports_statistics/summary_republic.htm">nationwide vote </a> was 55% “no” to 45% “yes”.</p> <p>The rate of decline in support for “yes” continues to be about 0.75 of a percentage point a week. If this trend continues, the “yes” vote would sit at 39.6% on October 14, 5.5 percentage points below the “yes” vote in the republic referendum.</p> <p>If “yes” were to prevail on October 14, it would take a colossal reversal in public sentiment, or it would indicate there’s been a stupendously large, collective polling error. Or perhaps both.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe style="width: 100%;" src="https://simonjackman.github.io/poll_averaging_voice_2023/level_plot_standalone.html" width="100%" height="688"> </iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>What’s happening in the news and social media?</h2> <p>Using Meltwater data, we have seen a massive spike in Voice media coverage since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the referendum date at the end of August.</p> <p>In the most recent week we analysed, from September 14-21, we saw a huge jump of mentions of the Voice to Parliament (2.86 million) in print media, radio, TV and social media. This compares to about a quarter million mentions in the first week of the “yes” and “no” campaigns, which we documented in our <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-no-campaign-is-dominating-the-messaging-on-the-voice-referendum-on-tiktok-heres-why-212465">last report</a> of this series monitoring both campaigns.</p> <p>Voice coverage now constitutes 6.7% of all Australian media reporting, up from 4.2% in week one. To put that in perspective, mentions of Hugh Jackman’s marriage split from Deborra-Lee Furness comprised 1.5% of total weekly coverage, while mentions of the AFL and NRL amounted to 4.1% and 1.7%, respectively.</p> <p>Media coverage of the Voice peaked on September 17 with 38,000 mentions, thanks to widespread coverage of the “yes” rallies that day around the country.</p> <p>This was followed closely by 35,000 Voice mentions the next day, led by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s <a href="https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/voice-to-parliament/voice-will-see-lawyers-in-sydney-and-melbourne-get-richer-dutton/video/40349a54a9f0c2f48baec7ba7263a000">claim</a> on Sky News that a Voice to parliament would see lawyers in Sydney and Melbourne “get richer” through billions of dollars worth of treaty negotiations.</p> <p>Our analysis of X (formerly Twitter) data provides further insight to these trends, showing the nationwide “yes” rallies on September 17 received the most public engagement about the Voice during the week we analysed.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=269&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=269&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=269&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">X (Twitter) data accessed via Meltwater.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Author provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <h2>Who is advertising online?</h2> <p>This week, we specifically turned our attention to the online advertising spending of the campaigns. We also examined the types of disinformation campaigns appearing on social media, some of which are aimed at the Australian Electoral Commission, similar to the anti-democratic disinformation campaigns that have roiled the US.</p> <p>The main online advertising spend is on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms. We have real-time visibility of this spending thanks to the ad libraries of Meta and Google.</p> <p>The Yes23 campaign has far outspent any other Voice campaigner on these platforms. In the last three months, its advertising expenditure exceeds $1.1 million, compared to just under $100,000 for Fair Australia, the leading “no” campaign organisation.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=241&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=241&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=241&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=303&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=303&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=303&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Top five Voice campaign spenders on Facebook and Instagram since June 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Meta ad library</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>Yes23 has also released a far greater number of new ads in September (in excess of 3,200) on both platforms, compared to Fair Australia’s 52 new ads. The top five spenders from both sides are listed below.</p> <p>As early voting nears, this graph shows Yes23 ad spending outpaced Fair Australia on both Google and Meta platforms in week three, as well.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=484&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=484&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=484&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=608&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=608&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=608&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Campaign ad spending on digital platforms from Sept. 14-21.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Authors provided.</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>The advertising spending data shows how drastically different the strategies of the two main campaigns are. Yes23’s approach is an ad blitz, blanketing the nation with hundreds of ads and experimenting with scores of different messages.</p> <p>In contrast, the “no” side has released far fewer ads with no experimentation. The central message is about “division”, mostly delivered by the lead “no” campaigner, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. All but eight of the ads released by the “no” side in September feature a personal message by Price arguing that the referendum is “divisive” and “the Voice threatens Aussie unity.”</p> <p>To win, “yes” requires a majority of voters nationwide, as well as a majority of voters in a majority of states. The “no” side is strategically targeting its ads to the two states it believes are most likely in play – South Australia and Tasmania. It only needs to win one of these states to ensure the “yes” side fails.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=797&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=797&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=797&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1001&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1001&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1001&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Campaign ad spend on Meta platforms across the states since mid-August. (Dark blue = greater the ad spend).</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Author provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <h2>Referendum disinformation</h2> <p>The Meltwater data also reveal a surge in misinformation and disinformation targeting of the AEC with American-style attacks on the voting process.</p> <p>Studies show disinformation surrounding the referendum has been <a href="https://osf.io/qu2fb/">prevalent</a> on X since at least March. To mitigate the harms, the AEC has established a <a href="https://www.aec.gov.au/media/disinformation-register-ref.htm">disinformation register</a> to inform citizens about the referendum process and call out falsehoods.</p> <p>We’ve identified three types of disinformation campaigns in the campaign so far.</p> <p>The first includes attempts to redefine the issue agenda. Examples range from the false <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-02/fact-check-indigenous-australians-support-for-the-voice/102673042">claims</a> that First Nations people do not overwhelmingly support the Voice to <a href="https://stephenreason.substack.com/p/the-voice-to-parliament-the-united">conspiracy myths</a> about the Voice being a globalist land grab.</p> <p>These falsehoods aim to influence vote choice. This disinformation type is not covered in the AEC’s register, as the organisation has no provisions to enforce truth in political advertising.</p> <p>The register does cover a second type of disinformation. This includes spurious claims about the voting process, such as that the referendum is voluntary. This false claim aims to depress voter turnout in yet another attempt to influence the outcome.</p> <p>Finally, a distinct set of messages targets the AEC directly. The aim is to undermine trust in the integrity of the vote.</p> <p>A most prominent example was Dutton’s <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/voice-voting-rules-confusion-stinks-dutton-20230824-p5dz41">suggestion</a> the voting process was “rigged” due to the established rule of counting a tick on the ballot as a vote for “yes”, while a cross will not be accepted as a formal vote for “no”. Sky News host Andrew Bolt <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1256952825005993">echoed</a> this claim in his podcast, which was repeated on social media, reaching 29,800 viewers in one post.</p> <p>Attention to the tick/cross issue spiked on August 25 when the AEC <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/aug/25/indigenous-voice-to-parliament-referendum-aec-poll-unfairness-claims-rejected">refuted</a> the claim (as can be seen in the chart below). Daily Telegraph columnist and climate change denialist Maurice Newman then linked the issue to potential <a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/maurice-newman-aec-rules-on-voting-could-create-confusion-uncertainty/news-story/c76bc3e1e031c2f349710dd1e9f3b51e?btr=15aad1c65d873d8f896d09618a96e228">voter fraud</a>, mimicking US-style attacks on the integrity of voting systems.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=267&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=267&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=267&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=336&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=336&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=336&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Disinformation attacking AEC or referendum over past month.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Authors provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>The volume of mentions of obvious disinformation on media and social media may not be high compared to other mentions of the Voice. However, studies show disinformation disproportionately grabs people’s attention due to the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0224-y">cognitive attraction</a> of pervasive negativity, the focus on threats or arousal of disgust.</p> <p>All three types of disinformation campaigns attacking this referendum should concern us deeply because they <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00104140231193008">threaten trust</a> in our political institutions, which undermines our vibrant democracy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213749/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrea-carson-924"><em>Andrea Carson</em></a><em>, Professor of Political Communication, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/max-gromping-1466451">Max Grömping</a>, Senior Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-strating-129115">Rebecca Strating</a>, Director, La Trobe Asia and Associate Professor, La Trobe University, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-jackman-310245">Simon Jackman</a>, Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-yes-voice-campaign-is-far-outspending-no-in-online-advertising-but-is-the-message-getting-through-213749">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Misinformation and the Voice: how can you spot and defuse false claims?

<p>On 14 October, Australians will vote in their first referendum in 24 years.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>The question – whether to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament – has been hotly debated for much of this year already, and campaigning will ramp up for both the Yes and No votes in coming weeks.</p> <p><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/what-if-instead-of-blaming-readers-of-misinformation-we-showed-them-how-to-tell-the-difference-between-facts-and-falsehoods/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="link" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/what-if-instead-of-blaming-readers-of-misinformation-we-showed-them-how-to-tell-the-difference-between-facts-and-falsehoods/">Misinformation</a> and <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/inoculating-against-disinformation/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="link" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/inoculating-against-disinformation/">disinformation</a> about the referendum have also been circulating, both on- and offline.</p> <p>What should we be keeping an eye out for, and what are the best methods of dealing with misinformation? <em>Cosmos</em> investigates.</p> <p>“There’s a whole field unto itself on how you classify misinformation,” says Dr Natasha van Antwerpen, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Adelaide.</p> <p>It can vary “from the very blatant, absolute lie, through to something that, even if all the facts are correct, the actual impression that you get is not true”, she says.</p> <p>It’s particularly difficult to see if you’re dealing with statements about the future – such as, ‘a Yes or No vote will cause this thing to happen’.</p> <p>“With prediction, it can be really challenging, because you don’t really have a ground truth to work with,” says van Antwerpen.</p> <p>“Things that you can always look out for tend to be: if it’s a really extreme statement, if there’s no degree of uncertainty in the prediction, and sometimes if it’s very obviously feeding into a politicised narrative, that can be a bit of a red flag.”</p> <p>Acknowledging uncertainty is often a better sign that the information is true, says van Antwerpen, as is checking someone’s citations.</p> <p>“What are the bases that they’re making those predictions on? Have they actually got solid research evidence behind the predictions that they’re making, as opposed to speculation?”</p> <p>While the actions both campaigns want people to take in this referendum are very simple – either vote yes, or no – they rest on a very complicated cultural context.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of things that are feeding into people’s decision making that don’t just come from the campaign, they have extraordinary long legacies in Australia,” says Dr Clare Southerton, a lecturer in digital technology and pedagogy at La Trobe University.</p> <p>“When you’re trying to inform people, they’re always going to be interpreting it through their own lens. And that’s how misinformation is able to circulate so rapidly: people respond to it in emotional ways, because they’re coming to it from their own personal histories.”</p> <p>What’s the best way to deal with misinformation if you do come across it?</p> <p>“I wish there was a simple answer,” says Southerton.</p> <p>“Unfortunately, research shows that at this point there is really no <em>most</em> successful strategy.”</p> <p>That said, there are things that work in different circumstances. Southerton says that on social media, reporting the misinformation is a reliable strategy. “When misinformation is mass-reported, it does get taken down – unfortunately, not usually before many, many eyeballs have seen it.”</p> <p>What about your friend or relative who’s dead-set on a stance you know is factually incorrect? Southerton says that while, once again, there’s no method with strong evidence proving it to be the best, connecting with the person “on an emotional level” often helps change their beliefs.</p> <p>“If you can think about where they might be coming from, and connect with them on that level, that’s going to be the most successful. Because we know that people share misinformation because the position that the misinformation has taken makes them feel good,” says Southerton.</p> <p>Southerton warns against “debunking” by simply telling someone that they’re wrong.</p> <p>“Correcting someone, or fact checking, feels good to us, but often shames the person who’s shared the misinformation and can radicalise them further.”</p> <p>This doesn’t mean you need to legitimise their viewpoint.</p> <p>“Try and think about ways that you can humanise your position to them,” says Southerton.</p> <p>“Ultimately, this is a very emotional time for Aboriginal people in Australia, to have these kinds of debates happening about them in a way that can open up conversation for extreme racism to happen in the public sphere.</p> <p>“So it’s really important that we don’t legitimise that racism. But at the same time, […] what is actually successful, as a way to combat misinformation, is about connecting with people who are sharing it, and seeing what ways we can best reach them.”</p> <p>For people who deal with a lot of misinformation professionally, van Antwerpen says it’s important to choose which myths to debunk – you won’t be able to fight every single false statement.</p> <p>Once chosen, she recommends <a href="https://www.climatechangecommunication.org/debunking-handbook-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The Debunking Handbook</em></a> by Stephan Lewandowsky for evidence-based advice on challenging myths.</p> <p>In general, “you want to start with the facts in a very clear way, so you want it to be as concise as possible,” she says.</p> <p>“We used to say ‘never repeat the misinformation’, but that’s changed a bit now. Generally, it’s best to warn that you’re going to say misinformation, and then just say it once.”</p> <p>Then, van Antwerpen says it’s very important to explain why the misinformation is wrong.</p> <p>“Our brains like to have some sort of explanation. If we don’t have something to fill the gap that’s left when we correct the misinformation, it will just go back to the misinformation.”</p> <p>Being conscious of political narratives, without feeding them and getting more polarised, is important too.</p> <p>“When we present these really polarised arguments, people often tend to either polarise or they’ll get apathetic and drop out,” says van Antwerpen.</p> <p>“So if you’re looking at informing people, it’s finding how can you communicate it in a way that’s not encouraging that split.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/misinformation-voice-referendum/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/ellen-phiddian/">Ellen Phiddian</a>. </em></p> </div>

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