Nestled in the heart of Victoria’s coal power generation region lie the small communities of Traralgon, Moe, Churchill, and Warragul. Towering cooling towers dot the landscape, burning the abundant coal reserves of the area and supplying the bulk of Victoria’s energy needs. With rain continuing to dominate the weather and the Optus data breach leading the national news media, our CROC presentations this week were highly interactive and relatable.

Without doubt the highlight was the all staff briefing held at the Traralgon Westpac branch with a dedicated and engaged team, led by branch Manager Annette Peterson. Also in attendance was the regional manager for Victoria and Tasmania Justin Caccavo. We spoke at length about the role IDCARE can play to support the Westpac fraud team in providing a more comprehensive service to their customers, particularly if the bank is unable to refund lost funds, and how we can seek to assist customers’ in reducing misuse if ID credentials have been compromised. Several staff shared anecdotes about scams they had dealt with from their customers and our IDCARE Optus fact sheet was distributed to staff and referred to shortly after the branch opened as a customer was specifically asking for this advice. Our IDCARE team then set up a special drop-in clinic in the bank during opening hours to answer further questions from staff and customers.


A broad mix of media interviews were carried out - including with the local ABC, commercial radio and several local newspapers – which ensured strong attendance during our week of cyber resilience building events. At one event at the Warragul Neighbourhood House are tired bank manager and Optus customer who attended after hearing about IDCARE on the radio that day, spoke about the lengths he had taken to change his licence after VicRoads had joined other states in giving this option to impacted Optus customers. He remarked how much the industry has changed since he had been working in finance and it was noted by several the need to update the paper and plastic identity documents we have to allow individuals more security and reduce the incidence of scams.

At a presentation at the Dalkeith retirement home a participant at our presentation shared a text she had recently received alerting her to some potential funds available from a class action involving the CBA and Colonial First State. She was dubious of its authenticity and we were able to “reverse engineer” the message and conduct our own investigation to see if the message was indeed legitimate by finding alternative contact details and news articles to verify the text. It proved to be a valuable lesson to all about the need to be cautious clicking links sent from unfamiliar sources and to conduct independent verification where possible.

Some interesting discussions were held at the Moe Community house where the manager of the facility, Nathan, showed how the new Google Pixel phone can answer any phone call with its artificial intelligence and decipher legitimacy - enabling the user to avoid the constant barrage of scam calls. It was also a useful exercise in explaining the nature of the Do Not Call Register and how even if you have a blocked number you won't avoid scam calls and texts. An equally interesting discussion arose around probate and password or account management of loved ones who are either deceased or may be soon unable to manage their affairs. As Australians are continually being asked to increase the length and difficulty of their passwords it was a good example of the need to use password management software or keep them safely stored - and in some cases share this information with a trusted friend or family member. 

Our CROC tour of the region will continue in the coming weeks with a visit to the nearby community of Yarram,where based on the data collected in our Scam Vulnerability Index, we have more work to do in building capability in the community and provide valuable information around scam awareness and resilience.