The amount of online and phone scams in Australia is ever increasing. Did you know that approximately 9 out of 10 Australians have already been a target of a scam

If you think you have somehow avoided being targeted, then sadly think again. Some criminals are collecting individuals’ information now and storing it, intending to use it soon or even years from now.

So what should you do to protect yourself? Here are 5 steps you should follow to help protect your identity and assets.

1. Be aware of phishing

This is the method scammers’ use via electronic communication such as e-mail and mobile phone sms messages. They attempt to obtain your personal information such as your full name, address, date of birth, usernames, passwords and credit card details. Some features of phishing communications that you should look for are:

  • You notice spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes or bad punctuation
  • You are asked to provide some personal information
  • You are asked to actually something, like calling or contacting a number or opening a document

Please also be aware that scammers are also known to phone people to ask for certain details. If you doubt the caller, obtain their name/staff number and extension number and then call them back after locating the business’s contact number via your own independent research, not by them providing you with their number.

2. Make sure your computer is protected

Here is a list of items you should definitely have in place.

  • Have updated security software. This includes anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-spam and firewall protection.
  • Make sure your computer’s operating system has automatic updates switched on.
  • When using your computer to do banking, always type in the banks web address into the browsers address bar. NEVER click a link that may have been sent to you from an e-mail claiming to be from your bank. Banks NEVER do this, so this will be a very elaborate scam. It can enable a nasty program to now run on your computer, which can collect your login details. Also, always remember to sign out once you are finished.

3. Don’t use public or other people’s computers

Public computers could already have dangerous programs running on them that you are unaware about. If you try to log into any site using your username and password, this information can be collected. Also be mindful of using another persons or friends computer, as you don’t know how well protected their computer is.

 4. Don’t change passwords regularly

If a scammer has obtained your login details, by changing your passwords regularly will stop them accessing your account in the future.

 5. Be aware of phone porting

Scammers may collect enough of your information to then contact your current mobile provider and actually change your phone provider to another without you knowing. By doing this, if you use sms security codes for Banking, they will then have changed your phone number to a substitute phone, providing them with your code. If you ever experience your phone suddenly being disconnected, immediately call your phone service provider to find out what is going on, and if they indicate the account has been transferred advise them your phone has been ported illegally and they will assist you.

Unfortunately scammers are always evolving and becoming more underhanded. You must guard your personal details with your life, and you have every right to be suspicious if someone is asking personal questions. The biggest scams in Australia to date are those that have involved pretend inheritances, tax office refunds, bogus Microsoft, Telstra or Australia Post calls, Bank and lottery wins.

We can’t predict what the next ones may be, but as long as you are;

  • Diligent with protecting your identity and assets

  • Remind yourself that if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s likely a scam

  • Keep informed and educated about scams

  • Review our 5 steps regularly

then you are heading firmly in the right direction to avoid the heartbreak of being scammed of your identity or money.

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