As the festive season approaches, it’s important to be aware of the increased risk of scams. Scammers target generous shoppers at this time of year, and according to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, Australians have lost nearly half a billion dollars to scams in 2022 – $150 million more than in 2021.
Don’t let yourself be a victim this Christmas. Here are four common types of scams and how to spot them:
Phishing scams are the most commonly reported type of scam in Australia. They occur when scammers attempt to elicit personal information, such as passwords, bank account numbers or credit card numbers, from unsuspecting victims.
Scammers will often impersonate a legitimate business, such as a bank, and reach out to potential victims via email, text, phone call or social media. They may claim that there is a technical issue or ‘suspicious activity’ on an account, and ask the recipient to confirm personal details. Alternatively, they may offer a prize for filling out a survey.
These messages may look genuine at first glance; however, they will usually have a link to a website that is slightly different from the real business’s URL. If you receive a suspicious message, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Simply delete it and contact the business directly if you want to double check.
2) False billing
False billing scams are when you receive a fake invoice, subscription renewal, or directory ad. This type of scam depends on the victim not knowing that the bill, renewal notice, or advertisement is fake. The scammer may also send attachments that infect your computer with ransomware, or they may threaten legal action.
If you’re not familiar with the product or service, or if you receive a call from a supplier out of the blue, be cautious. Always verify invoices before paying them, and contact suppliers directly if it looks like their bank details have changed.
3) Online shopping scams
The internet can be a dangerous place for shoppers if they’re not careful.
Scammers will try to trick people by posing as online retailers. They might create a fake website or post an ad on a genuine website. These websites can look very convincing, with stolen logos, offers of bonus gift cards, and even ads on social media.
Research from NordVPN found 93 per cent of scam victims would hand over personal data for a bonus gift or discount.
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. If you are unsure about an online trader, search for customer reviews.
4) Remote access scams
If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be a technical support representative, hang up immediately. These types of scams attempt to trick you into thinking you have an issue with your computer or internet connection. The scammers will often pose as staff members from telecommunications companies. They may claim your computer has a virus or that you need to install new software and they need remote access to fix the problem. However, if you actually do need technical support, contact your provider directly so you can be sure you’re speaking to a legitimate staff member.
How to protect yourself
Scam attempts are here to stay, which is why you need to take steps to protect yourself. Here are our top tips to protect yourself from cyber-attacks:
• Don’t click on links or open attachments from unknown parties
• If you’re suspicious, follow up correspondence directly with the sender organisation (using contact details sourced from their official website)
• Learn how to use email safely and browse the web safely
• Stay informed by checking Scamwatch for the latest updates
• Mix up your passwords and use multi-factor authentication where possible
• Look out for dodgy email addresses, spelling/grammatical errors or requests for money/information
• If you suspect a scam, don’t reply and don’t follow the prompts.
How we protect our clients’ data
We understand the importance of data protection, which is why we use a cloud-based technology platform. It features security protections like multi-factor authentication, state-of-the-art encryption and security monitoring tools to protect data.
We hope that with these tips you have a cyber safe Christmas and we look forward to helping you with all your financial needs in 2023.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal, nor to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not consider your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking action, consider your circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.