A list of common online scams
Online scams and hacks are often the subject of many of our blogs - not because we 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 a fee.
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.
Tips: Ignore and block the recipient from being able to contact you via your social media platform and/or phone.
- 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 don’t.
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 financial institution
- Provided personal information? You may want to alert the ATO or other applicable organisations to warn of a potential identity theft
- Change all your online logins and passwords
- Report the scam to the company/organisation the scammer claimed to represent
- 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 Australia.
For more information, please contact our Digital Media & Technology team in Parramatta and Norwest.