If you have never been scammed or found yourself the victim of a data breach, it’s likely you have known someone who has had this unpleasant experience.
In Australia in 2022, it was reported that Australians lost a collective $474 million to scams. Hackers and criminals got away with fraudulent investments, identity theft, online shopping scams, false billing and dating app scams. People even scam other people into thinking they are paying for and about to receive a new puppy.
With our world becoming increasingly digital and scammers getting smarter by the minute, you need to be aware of what potential scams there are so you can protect yourself from losing money.
Here are eight ways to be scam-alert in 2023:
1. Stay informed:
Keeping up to date with the latest scams is one of the most effective ways to protect your information and accounts. Scammers are constantly coming up with new tactics, so it’s important to know their latest tricks. You can do this by regularly checking the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch website, which provides up-to-date information on scams and how to avoid them.
2. Be wary of unexpected emails, texts or calls:
Scammers often use emails, texts, or calls to lure people into their traps. If you receive an email or text message from an unknown sender, be wary of clicking on any links or attachments, or you may end up accidentally downloading malware to your device. If someone calls from a number you don’t recognise, don’t provide any personal information unless you are 100 per cent certain you know who you are dealing with.
Scam messages may point to an overdue bill or fine, or they may claim to be from a friend or family member who needs help. In this case, they might ask you to click on a link or connect via a platform like Whatsapp. Be very careful before you do so, especially if the ‘friend’ says they need money.
If it’s a text with a link, look for email address urls like quantas.com instead of qantas.com.au, or shortened links that make it hard to know exactly what website they will open to.
3. Verify requests for information:
If you receive an email or call from an organisation requesting personal information, take a moment to verify the request. Contact the organisation directly using their official contact details and confirm whether or not they have been trying to get in touch.
One way to check if you’re being scammed is to Google the exact wording of the message you receive. It may come up straight away that it is a scam.
4. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication:
Using strong passwords and enabling two-factor authentication can go a long way to protect your online accounts. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long, include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security by requiring a code to be entered in addition to your password.
5. Invest carefully:
Scamwatch showed investment scams were by far the worst offenders in Australia last year. Some of these include SMSF scammers; people who convince Australians to hand over their superannuation, then make off with the money. This obviously is incredibly devastating.
As shared by Choice, be very wary if someone you don’t know approaches you to handle your superannuation. Check your advisor’s licence first, always use a reputable company and make sure you sign official documents before you move your money.
6. Keep your computer and devices up-to-date:
Ensuring your computer and devices are up-to-date with the latest security updates and patches can help prevent malware and other security threats. This includes updating your operating system, web browsers, and any other software you use.
7. Protect your personal information:
Be cautious of sharing personal information online or over the phone. This includes your full name, date of birth, address, and financial information such as bank account or credit card details. Only share this information with trusted organisations and individuals. Most organisations will never ask you to email personal information or passwords, and it is very rare to be asked for an online account password over the phone.
8. Be careful when shopping online:
When shopping online, ensure you are using a secure website by checking for a padlock symbol in the address bar and ensuring the website’s address starts with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’ (the s means the link is more secure). You should also avoid using public Wi-Fi networks when making online purchases.
If a marketplace or eBay deal seems too good to be true, or if you find a website offering unbelievably low prices, it’s probably a scam. Do your research and only spend money you can afford to lose.
Want to secure your finances for a more prosperous future? Learn more about what Landen Wealth offers here.