How to Spot A Scam (Scam Awareness)

May 24th, 2022 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. elizabethm

Fishing is a fun and relaxing Sunday afternoon activity, but we’re not here to talk about fishing for carp, we’re here to discuss phishing and scams.  

On that note, I’m a wealthy Australian Prince and need $500 to buy a plane ticket home, upon my arrival, I will send you $1000 as a thank you.  

The above sounds ridiculous, I know, but every year many Australians fall victim to similar tactics and lies. 

In 2021 alone, Australians lost $323,723,459 to scams and phishing, according to ScamWatch. And even though that figure is high, what’s just as bad is the stigma attached to falling for a clever scam.  

So, let’s start a conversation about it. 

Scammers target everyone – they don’t care who you are, all they care about is money. 

50% of scams are done over the phone and the top 3 scams by money lost are: investments, dating & romance and false billing. 

Be wary of uninvited offers to help with finances or requests for money.  

Scammers will prey on your emotions and community spirit to get you to trust them or to act before you think. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  

Examples are: investment opportunities with high returns, fake charities, using fear to make you believe you owe them money or unexpected winnings. 

Let’s get down to the tips and tricks our network team have for you: 

  • If you are paying for something from a platform like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree, use PayPal – it will add an extra layer of protection. Don’t use bank transfers or cash.  
  • Scammers won’t always be openly trying to get your money, instead, they may try get your personal details to gain access to your social media, bank accounts or emails.  

E.g. Posts on social media asking you to answer ‘fun’ questions like what city you were born in, your first pet’s name or what school you went to are generally trying to get your personal information for harmful activities.  

  • “Look after the keys to your kingdom” – use strong passwords with a string of random letters, numbers and/or special characters, or use an easy to remember passphrase. We recommend looking into using a password manager to securely store all your passwords.  
  • Don’t use the same passwords for multiple websites or platforms. If your password to a random website is the same as your bank password, then scammers/hackers only need to hack the random website to get your bank login details. 
  • Make sure your operating systems (E.g. Windows) is up to date with the latest security updates. It’s also important to use an operating system is still supported and updated (e.g. Windows XP is no longer updated by Microsoft and is a security risk).  
  • Don’t click on links from unknown sources, whether in an email or an SMS. You may accidentally download malware (viruses) or have your personal information stolen. 
  • Poor spelling and grammar are generally a good indication of a scam. 
  • If you are asked to click on a link, you can hover your mouse (without clicking on it) to see where it will take you. Take note of any mistakes in the URL – Netflix.com v net-flix.com – these are not the same URL and can redirect you to a fake site to steal your username and password.  
  • Be aware of phone calls asking you to download something to ‘fix’ your computer, they’ll be downloading malicious malware onto your computer to steal your information. 

There are great online resources available, that will help you understand and identify different types of scams, tell you how to protect yourself and teach you how to report a scam, to help keep our community safe. 

https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-protection/protecting-yourself-from-scams 

https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/ 

The more we speak up about scams we’ve encountered, or even fallen for, the better off our community will be. It’s happened to the best of us, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.  

You can also check to see if your email and/or password have been compromised here – https://haveibeenpwned.com/