Online scams and hacks are often the subject of many of my blogs
- not because I have writers block - but because scammers are the
new era of cyber criminals. The more educated we are about these
online scams, the less likely we are to fall victim.
Here's a list of some common scams to be aware of:
Fake brand websites: These websites look like
the real deal – copying pictures and the format of the
original. The giveaway is in the payment request - wire transfer,
pre-loaded debit cards or bitcoins – which are either not
secure or rarely used.
Tips: Before you buy online, check the website
thoroughly for any indication that it's a scam including
grammatical errors, no refund policy or no contact details. Then
research online about the website (via Google). If others have had
a bad experience you will usually find something online.
Microsoft software upgrades: Scammers send
emails or call pretending to be from Microsoft and offering the
latest update to Windows 10. The emails offer to fast track your
upgrade if you follow a link and download an installer program
– which infects your computer with malware. They may also
claim that you have security issues which they can fix remotely for
Tips: If you receive this email don't open
attachments, click any hyperlinks or respond. Check the email
address for authenticity eg sender has a hotmail or gmail email as
opposed to a genuine Microsoft email. Importantly, note that
Microsoft will never call you about your software.
Lottery scams: A long running scam using
social media platforms or SMS to advise you that you've won
money from a lottery or competition. Personal information is then
requested for your so-called winnings to be transferred, but not
before you're required to pay "fees" or
"taxes." Beware as this scam also often does the rounds
via SMS and WhatsApp. I recently received (and blocked) an SMS
claiming I'd won money from the London lottery.
Tips: Ignore and block the recipient from being
able to contact you via your social media platform and/or
Fake fines: Scammers send seemingly genuine
emails notifying you of a speeding or other infringement and
warning you to pay up or face the consequences.
Tips: To avoid falling victim to this scam,
give State Debt Recovery Office a call or go to www.sdro.nsw.gov.au and
enter in the penalty/infringement number to check the validity.
Centrelink employees: Scammers impersonate
Centrelink employees to trick you into handing over personal
details for the purposes of an identity theft. You may be asked to
pay a fee and threatened that your payments will be cut off if you
Tips: Call Centrelink to confirm if it was a
genuine call/email before providing any details.
I've fallen victim, what do I do?
Provided bank or credit card details? Promptly phone your
Provided personal information? You may want to alert the ATO or
other applicable organisations to warn of a potential identity
Change all your online logins and passwords
Report the scam to the company/organisation the scammer claimed
Report the scam to Scamwatch.
Run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, it
provides information about recognising and avoiding scams and an
extensive list of scams to watch out for
If you can identify your scammer and have suffered loss
(whether that be monetary, identity or personal information), you
may be able to take legal action, especially if they're in
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Two criminal offences relating to "false dealing with accounting documents" have been introduced into the Criminal Code.
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