Scams Awareness Week – What you need to know to stay protected
This week, starting 17th August is the annual Scams Awareness Week, an initiative spearheaded by the Scams Awareness Network.
In just 2019 alone, the cost to Australians, businesses and the economy was in excess of $634 million as a result of scams. Knowing what scams are most prevalent and how they work is a key to protecting yourself from being a potential victim.
Scams are consistently evolving, aided by our increasing dependence on technology which opens the door for people to unwittingly provide their information. This access to personal information can lead to identity theft as well as the exposure to other scams when stolen personal information is used.
How do scammers access your private information?
- By breaking into your mailbox and stealing items containing sensitive personal information
- By sending phishing emails and texts that trick you into replying with personal information.
- By creating fake online surveys, job advertisements and stores
- By Hacking into your emails or other online accounts
- By requesting to connect on social media platforms
What common ways do scammers use your personal information?
- Access and syphon funds from your bank accounts
- Open new accounts in your name and take out loans
- Take out contracts in your name such as phone plans
- Purchase expensive items in your name
- Access your superannuation
- Access your government online services such as Centrelink, ATO
- Access your emails to acquire sensitive information
- Access your social media accounts to impersonate you to further scam your family and friends
How to protect yourself
- Never click on any links in emails or texts, particularly if you are prompted to update or validate personal details. Always type an organisation’s website address manually when signing in.
- Choose unique passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. Do not share your passwords and ensure you use different passwords for different sites.
- Monitor your account statements, checking for any discrepancies. Check your credit report annually.
If you think you have been scammed it is important to take immediate action. Alert your financial institution and halt any upcoming payments. The best source of information to figure out what to do is Scamwatch, a division of the ACCC. For more information you can visit their website at https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
If you have any questions or concerns you can also contact your Blackburne Mortgage Broker who will be able to direct you to seek assistance.