The technological world we now live in provides us with many opportunities and conveniences for us to explore. Whether it be through a phone or a computer, a computerised world is but a few clicks away.
While our devices are indeed very useful tools for messaging others, recreational uses or even managing our personal information/accounts; there are real threats that could impact our lives should we not keep ourselves informed.
We should be aware of computer viruses that could render your device useless, hackers who may break into your device to steal what they can or, the conman of the modern era, internet scammers
Forms of scams
Scams in Australia and around the world can come in different forms. Whether its via text, email or even through a call; it is important to be able to identify one. Many scams disguise themselves as part of a large company such as your banking service, internet provider or even the government.
Impersonation is a vital tool for many scams alongside their tactics of pressure and making you feel that you are in the wrong. Some scams will pursue your personal data whilst others will seek a one-time payment from you. You may also encounter scams while browsing unsecure websites. They may appear as warnings or lock your computer to an extent where you are unable to get an image off of your screen.
These scams will often ask for personal details or passwords in order to claim your accounts. If a scammer is able to access you email address, they can potentially gain access to all you’re accounts that use the same email.
Furthermore, it is important to make sure that you maintain different passwords for different accounts for further protection against losing all of your accounts. This form of scam can come from a variety of sources (text, email, phone call, etc.). As with most scams ignoring any deals that seem to good to be true is a good start.
If the scammer is disguising themselves as a company or person you know and is asking for such information, you should attempt to contact the company yourself through a different source. It is important that you don’t contact a source that the scammer has given you.
These scams will often ask for a quick sum of money in order to fix a problem that isn’t even real. By impersonating a group or organisation that you may be familiar with, they seek to deceive you. This form of scam also can come from a variety of sources (text, email, phone call, etc.). These scams can be avoided in much the same way as seen above in account scams.
Largely, these scams prey on the fear of their victims and will attempt to convince people of an issue that can only be solved if acted upon quickly. In these times it is important to remain calm and attempt to contact an outside trustworthy source.
If you are exploring unsecured websites, you may encounter a misleading pop-up. These messages could simply allude to a fake website in order to have you click on a shady link or they could prevent you from using your device.
The most obvious way to combat these scams would be to not browse any unsecure websites however it is understandable that not everyone follows this. The first method of prevention is to close any pop-ups or tabs as soon as they pop up. This can work for a large number of scams you’ll find online however some may not be closed so easily. In this case, seeking professional help is advised unless you are already aware of how to deal with such occurrences.
In Australia, we currently have seen a rise in rental scams and with the current pandemic, the emergence of COVID-19 related scams. There has also been an increase in government impersonators seeking your information and/or money.
There is an ever-changing pattern of scams varying over a wide range of forms such as text, email and calls. In order to educate yourself with more knowledge of what scams may be out there and what to currently avoid, we recommend Scamwatch.
Scamwatch is a government-run program with a website that holds much information on what you should be aware of. Using this website as a resource you can discover if a message you have received is that of a scammer by comparing it to documented cases.
What to do if you have been scammed
If you have already fallen to a scam there a many steps for you to take on the road to recovery. Whilst it may not always be possible for you to reclaim certain payments there are still options to take to recover what you can.
Immediately after you have realized that you have fallen for a scam you should cease all contact with the scammer and do not make anymore payments. During this time, you should also contact family and friends and alert them of this situation so that a scammer doesn’t attempt to use you as a disguise to scam them. Next you should get in contact with your banking service and alert them to your situation. Whether you made a payment or not if there is any information that the scammer has gathered from you, they may still attempt to access your banking accounts.
Furthermore, you should begin to go over your online and at home security. If any information you have given could allow a scammer to access an of your accounts, it is imperative that you secure and lock said accounts. Finally, you should begin contacting different services to see if there is a possibility of recovering lost money or personal details. Later you should attempt to better educate yourself with scams so that you do not fall victim to them again.