Scammers are becoming increasingly clever in their attempts to steal your personal details or your money. And they’re doing their best to get mileage out of the COVID-19 situation. Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia. We all need to be vigilant.
What do scammers want?
Most scammers want one of three things:
… to spread misinformation
… to steal personal information for the purpose of identity theft
… to sell fake products
How can we protect ourselves?
There are some simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves from scams.
- Be vigilant with emails, text messages and attachments. As a general rule, don’t click on links given by a person or organisation you don’t know and trust.
- Be especially careful (and suspicious) about requests for bank account or other personal or business information.
- If you have any doubt as to the veracity of an email or text, contact the person or company by phone, and ask them to confirm the request.
- Before purchasing products or services online, do some research to make sure you’re dealing with a real business, with real offerings.
- As part of researching the business, look at whether it provides adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions, dispute resolution, and contact details.
- Use trusted and established news sources.
Scamwatch and the “Little Black Book of Scams”
Scamwatch is run by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Its purpose is to help us recognise scams and avoid them. The Scamwatch website has loads of useful information and resources. As part of the recent Scams Awareness Week, the ACCC launched a weekly podcast called “This is not your life”, which they claim is the most entertaining way to protect your identity!
In addition to their Scamwatch website, the ACCC has put together a guide to spotting, avoiding and reporting consumer fraud. Information included in the “Little Black Book of Scams”, includes the most common scams to watch for, the tools scammers use to trick you, the golden rules to protect yourself and where you can find help.
You can access the “Little Black Book of Scams” at https://www.accc.gov.au/publications/the-little-black-book-of-scams. You can read it onscreen, download it as a PDF, or listen to the audio version.
You can also sign up for free email alerts on new scams targeting consumers and small businesses.
The best way to stay one step ahead of the scammers is to be informed so that you can recognise a scam when you see it. Remember, forewarned is forearmed!
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