Most of us probably know about those fake inheritance scams and emails from Nigeria, but some are still being duped by scams claiming they are from The Post or The ATO. Scams are not only happening over email, but also by phone and through popular social media accounts, and they aren’t always from strangers, some can appear as though they come from people we know, or even from our own fake profiles!
Here are some steps to help protect yourself*
Be alert to the fact that scams exist.
When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it’s over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Know who you’re dealing with.
If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a business, take some time to do a bit more research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for others who may have had dealings with them.
Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails – delete them.
If unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Don’t use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
Keep your personal details secure.
Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
Keep your mobile devices and computers secure.
Always use password protection, don’t share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content. Protect your WiFi network with a password and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.
Choose your passwords carefully.
Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Beware of any requests for your details or money.
Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.
Be careful when shopping online.
Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust. Think twice before using virtual currencies (like bitcoin) – they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods, which means you can’t get your money back once you send it.