With the spring thaw underway the beautiful central west district of NSW played host to another round of CROC engagements, this time in the ‘colour city’, Orange.  With the white and pink cherry blossoms bursting with life and some welcome relief from all the rain, this was certainly one of our most dynamic CROCs yet. 

We held drop-in sessions at both the Westpac and St George bank branches with staff familiarising themselves with the services IDCARE provides and asking specific questions around our unique response plan provision to our clients. It was great to differentiate between the important work already offered by the corporation’s fraud team and what IDCARE provides, with one team member at the Westpac branch having just dealt with a potential scam before stepping into our meeting. During the St George visit, Managing Director of IDCARE David Lacey further explored with staff the regularly seen challenge of convincing those more reluctant bank customers that they may be the victim of a scam when attending the branch.

Orange Police welcomed a detailed briefing of the work IDCARE does and undertook to arm the rest of their team with the information provided during our session. Chief Inspector Brett Smith, Crime Manager for Central West Police District and Community Engagement officer Yonneka Hill, thought our messages around regional vulnerabilities to scams backed up by our local data insights from known cases and the support available to those who fall victim to scams would be great to feature at an October fraud awareness program of events currently being planned.

First Choice Credit Union hosted an all staff briefing before opening which was extremely effective. During this session we discussed the local data collected from clients we have helped from the region which detailed the average loss from the Orange postcode is $41,462,55% more than the national average. One staff member discussed her own family scam, which involved a fake tractor ad. She also undertook to share the IDCARE message to some of her agribusiness contacts who may be able to access a wider network of farming families who don’t often attend branches and live in remote locations, but who are at heightened risk as they do make large transactions making them potential targets to business email compromise. 

A full house at a University of the Third Age (U3A) meeting were keen to learn more about the widespread nature and impact of cybercrime. Anne Kennedy was most grateful for the information, having experienced a range of scams in her life. In fact, Anne became our V.I.P. for the week attending this session, listening in to our 45-minute radio interview on Orange Community Radio 107.5FM the following day and then attending our drop-in library session. The Orange library team, led by Sean Brady were very accommodating of our presence and welcomed the opportunity to connect further with smaller branches at Forbes, Cowra, Molong, Canowindra, Manildra and Blaney. Many of the other librarians also attended and were keen to learn more about the resilience building resources available from IDCARE in their customer facing roles.

Some of the other highlights included a briefing with the Orange mayor Cr Jason Hamling, head of council information systems and representatives from the community engagement team. There was enthusiasm to brief the rest of the staff and try and generate some social media awareness around IDCARE at upcoming fraud awareness events they were planning, utilising our online learning centre materials.

Elsewhere there was a briefing at the mental health support group LikeMind and presentations at the Oaktree and the United Protestant Association retirement villages and a public drop-in clinic at the Orange City Centre shopping centre. 

The Orange CROC wrapped up with a small business breakfast in Oberon hosted by the Rural Financial Counselling Service. This was a great opportunity to promote our free small business health check to a well-connected group of community members. Several stories of recent scam attempts were canvassed with a desire by our liaison for the meeting Glen Stewart to coordinate some more IDCARE sessions across the Central West as he travels to many smaller communities with known scam exposure. He thought more awareness sessions would be very beneficial to his constituents and will endeavour to champion the cause.

It was a busy two weeks in Orange and the surrounds, where I enjoyed speaking with over one hundred people about scams, cybercrime and identity theft, as well as hearing their experiences.