Common online scams
Online scams and hacks are the new era of criminals, particularly cyber criminals. The prevalence of new, upcoming and repeat scams is alarming. Scammers just won’t give up and they are trying to reel you in every possible way from software update scams to government official impersonators.
In a recent blog, ‘Four tips to prevent cyber attacks on your business’, we discussed the importance of educating your employees about cyber attacks to minimise the risk to your business.
Following on from that article, here are some of the more common scams doing the rounds at the moment:
Fake brand websites: scammers set up websites that look like the genuine store and copy pictures and the format of the original website. The give away is in the way scammers ask for payment which is either by wire transfer, pre loaded debit cards or bitcoins. These forms of payment are either not secure or rarely used.
Tips: Before you buy online, check the website thoroughly for any indication that it is a scam including grammatical errors, no refund policy or no contact details. Then go online and do your research about the website. If others have had a bad experience you will usually find something indicating this and hopefully with a warning that it is a scam website.
Microsoft software upgrades: scammers are continuing to try and reel people in by sending emails (and even making calls) pretending to be from Microsoft and offering the latest update to Windows 10. They have been known to send out emails offering to fast track your upgrade if you follow a link and download an installer program. If you download the software, your computer will be infected with malware. Alternatively, the scammers also try the remote access scam where they claim you have security issues in which they can fix for a fee.
Tips: If you receive this email, do not open attachments, do not click on hyperlinks and do not respond. Check the email address for authenticity. But, most importantly, note that Microsoft will never call you about your software.
Lottery scams: a long running scam where scammers have been using social media platforms to send messages advising recipients they have won a sum of money from a lottery or competition. Personal information is then requested for your so-called winnings to be transferred but not before you are required to pay “fees” or “taxes”. Beware as this scam often does the rounds via SMS too and also on WhatsApp.
Tips: Ignore and block the recipient from being able to contact you via the social media platform. If you received the message via SMS, you also are able to block that number.
Fake fines: scammers have recently been sending emails containing fake speeding fines or other infringements and warning you to pay up or face the consequences. The emails can often look genuine as scammers copy logos and formatting.
Tips: To avoid falling victim to this scam, go to the SRDO website and enter in the penalty/infringement number to check the validity or simply give SDRO a call.
Centrelink employees: scammers have been impersonating Centrelink employees trying to trick you into handing over personal details for the purposes of an identity theft. They may even ask you to pay some sort of fee and threaten that if you do not then your payments will be cut off. This scam may come in the form of an email too.
Tips: if you receive this call, hang up. Call Centrelink and they will be able to confirm if it was a genuine call.
What can you do if you fall victim?
If you have provided bank or credit card details, promptly phone your financial institution.
If you have provided personal information you may want to alert the ATO, RMS or any other applicable organisation to warn of a potential identity theft.
Change all your online logins and passwords.
Report the scam to the company/organisation that the scammer was claiming to be from
Report the scam to Scamwatch which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The website also provides very useful information to consumers and businesses about how to recognise and avoid scams and also has an extensive list of scams to watch out for.
If you are able to identify who scammed you and have suffered loss (whether that be monetary, identity or personal information), you may be able to take legal action, particularly if the person/company is in Australia.
For more help with this please contact:
Delvene Michael, Digital Media and Technology Lawyer
Phone: +61 2 9895 9200