Australians lose millions of dollars every year to scams. In fact, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest Targeting Scams Report, Australians lost over $851 million to scams last year, with phone and email fraud making up almost 70% of these scams.
Christmas time is a particularly prevalent time for fraud, so it’s important to understand the different types, what to look out for and most importantly, how to protect yourself.
While these can occur year-round, there are certain events where phishing scams are rife. Christmas is one example. With many of us busy in the lead up to the festive season, it’s easy to let your guard down. Fraudsters are becoming more devious, with texts and emails cleverly designed to appear legitimate and callers well-trained at impersonating credible businesses.
With many people doing Christmas shopping online, fraudsters are impersonating postal delivery services to trick you into giving personal information. They may ask for credit card details to ‘release’ items from a warehouse or send you a fake shipping update prompting you to click on a link leading to malicious software or fake websites. Look out for spelling and grammatical errors in this correspondence or any unusual links or an unfamiliar email address.
Scammers will often ask for personal and financial information or even request access to your computer. They may ask to confirm your driver licence number, which they can then use to guess passwords or buy things online using your identity.
Identity theft can also occur without you even dealing with a scammer. That is, they can take bills or other documents that contain account information out of your mailbox or even your rubbish. It’s important to ensure you destroy mail with personal information rather than just tossing it in the bin.
Spotting a scam
There are a few tell-tale signs of a scam. Here’s what to look out for:
- Pressure to act immediately: Fraudsters will try to instill a sense of urgency, guilt, anxiety or fear to elicit a response.
- Spelling mistakes or incorrect information: Double check the email or phone number you’re being contacted from, as it will often differ from the real contact details of the business they’re pretending to work for.
- Suspicious links: It’s important to remember that correspondence from banks or government departments will never include links which prompt you to provide personal information or login credentials.
How to be scam smart
While sophisticated scams can make detection tricky, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:
- Avoid using public computers for any internet banking, but if you need to, ensure you clear the browser’s cache, history and cookies when you are finished.
- Never allow your browser to remember your password.
- Do not click on links to websites or open attachments you are unsure of.
- If you receive a call that you’re unsure of, call the business back using the number you find on their website. The same goes for an email address.
- As a general rule, question anything that is suggesting you owe fees or that requires card details.
Regional Australia Bank wants to help you protect yourself and your finances online. If you become aware of a suspicious email, internet or telephone hoax, or if you believe you have been scammed, please contact us immediately on 132 067 or drop in to your nearest branch.