The festive season is a time for giving. But unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when generous shoppers are targeted by scammers.
According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, scams have cost Australians nearly half a billion dollars so far this year – already $150 million more than in 2021.
With scams on the rise, the last thing you want this Christmas is to fall victim to one.
Here are four of the most common types of scams and how you can spot them.
The most reported type of scam in Australia, phishing is an attempt to elicit personal information such as passwords, bank accounts or credit card numbers.
Scammers impersonate a legitimate business such as a bank – this could be via email, text, a phone call or social media. They will ask the recipient to confirm personal details because of a technical issue or ‘suspicious activity’ on an account, or offer a prize for filling out a survey.
While they may look genuine, these messages will have a link to a website that is slightly different to 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 is when a person or business receives a bogus invoice, subscription renewal or an invitation to a fake directory. This scam relies on staff not knowing that the bill, renewal notice or advertisement is fake.
Attachments can be used to infect your computer with ransomware or the scammer may threaten legal action.
If you’ve never heard of the product or service, or someone claiming to be a supplier calls you out of the blue, then be wary. Verify all invoices before paying them and contact suppliers directly if it looks like their bank details have changed.
3) Online shopping scams
The anonymous nature of the internet makes it an ideal place to trick unsuspecting shoppers.
Scammers will pose as online retailers through a fake website or an ad on a genuine website. These websites will use stolen logos, offers of bonus gift cards and even legitimate looking ads on social media to lure you in.
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
These types of scams attempt to convince you that you have an issue with your computer or internet connection. Scammers will often impersonate staff members from telecommunications companies or claim to be ‘technical support’.
They may claim your computer has a virus or that you should install new software and they need remote access to fix the problem.
If you receive an unexpected call asking for remote access to your computer, simply hang up. When you do need technical support, contact your provider directly so you know you’re talking 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.