Consumer Protection has issued an urgent warning to the generous people of Western Australia, following a major data breach that has left donors vulnerable to scam attempts. The breach targeted Pareto Phone, a telemarketing firm that raises funds for over 70 Australian-based charities, including the Cancer Council, Fred Hollows Foundation, and Canteen.
The breached data includes information on donations made within the last 10 years, compromising the details of thousands of donors. Personal information such as full names, dates of birth, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers, which are highly sought after by scammers, have been reportedly released on the dark web.
Consumer Protection Commissioner Trish Blake advises the public to be cautious and extra suspicious of uninvited or surprise calls, text messages, or emails. If contacted by someone claiming to be a credible organization, it is advisable to hang up and contact the organization directly using their published telephone number to verify any issues.
Blake also urges individuals not to click on links in emails and text messages and to refuse anyone seeking access to their computer as legitimate organizations do not make such requests. Scammers often use personal details to pose as government agencies, banks, or telecommunication providers to gain trust.
To protect against further risk, donors are recommended to change passwords on their email accounts and enable multi-factor authentication where available. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure direct dealings with licensed charities to safeguard personal and financial details. Donations made directly to charities ensure that the donation goes in full to the intended cause and do not expose personal or financial information to additional sources.
Anyone in Western Australia who believes they may be affected by the breach and wants to protect their identity should contact the national identity and cyber support service, IDCARE, at 1800 595 160.