The large regional Victorian town of Bendigo was our first mainland CROC of 2023. There was a range of events from markets, community groups and branch visits to further develop our relationship with our CROC partner, Westpac.
During our pop-up clinic at the Bendigo Showground market, many locals came to hear about the most effective ways to protect themselves from scams, cybercrime and identity theft. Lots of discussion about passwords and using password managers - as always, a very hot topic. During a presentation to staff at the Long Gully Neighbourhood Centre, the IT manager supported the presentation by demonstrating to the audience how he uses his password manager and how much easier it makes generating and remembering strong, unique passwords. It was a powerful demonstration of how a password manager works. There's nothing like seeing it in action to understand how to keep your passwords safe!

Our time with the Bendigo Westpac staff was extremely rewarding, with a successful customer scam education event in partnership with the Westpac team. It was a great opportunity to jointly deliver a range of cyber resilience-related information, including some powerful examples of different types of scams seen locally in the branch. Customers were reminded how to stay safe online and what protection measures are available to reduce the risk of online fraud. Westpac spoke of the protection measures available within the Westpac app, including the pre-authenticated call feature and the importance of verifying callers. It was a timely reminder of the advice we commonly provide. If you are unsure that the person on the end of the line is from the organisation they say they are, hang up and call them back via a number you know is correct.

We also visited former Bendigo-based client *Kate during our time in Bendigo. Kate contacted IDCARE after becoming involved in a gift card and money laundering scam. She secured $40,000 in gift cards for scammers from a range of retailers across the Bendigo district. Despite some of the cards totalling more than $1,500, the scammers had told her to say they were for her grandchildren for presents. Be very wary of anyone asking you to make gift card purchases and then asking you to provide the details of the gift cards.

Across the week, it was clear that the appetite for cybersecurity information was strong. Last year's Optus and Medibank breaches played a significant part in the community sessions, enabling IDCARE to build on growing public awareness and use real examples of response measures, including credit reports, credit bans and ID document reissue. As always, we encourage those we meet to have similar conversations about scams and identity theft awareness across their own community and family networks and share what they have learned. Spreading the message of cyber resilience is something we can all play a role in and something we are confident we helped happen during our time in Bendigo.

Thank you, Bendigo!

*not the client's real name