Online Scams: How To Spot Them, What Can You Do?

Online scams are something you always hear about in the news or see on films happening to people you don’t know and many of us don’t imagine that they’ll be caught out by an online scammer. But in fact, according to the ACCC Australians lost up to $340 million in 2017 to scammers with thousands of people getting scammed every year.

Scams can appear in many ways and forms online and often catch people off-guard or when they’re too busy to check the details properly. Here are some ways you can spot online scams.

  1. It sounds too good to be true: If you get a random email or text with an offer that sounds too good to be true. Then it probably is. These are things like winning a prize from a company you never heard of in a competition you never entered.
  2. Emails from unknown senders: Emails from unknown senders should be avoided and not opened. If you see that it has an attachment there and you don’t trust the source the email came from then don’t open it. It could be filled with malware or be a virus. It could also have links to a fake website pretending to be a well known brand, where they will try to steal your details. You can read a case study on a new Netflix scam that’s currently active from 9 News, in which people are being sent fake emails asking people to re-enter their billing information by what looks like to be an email from Netflix, but actually it’s a scam from people trying to steal credit card data. You can read about the Netflix email scam here.
  3. Fake online profiles: Scammers often use fake profile pictures, fake locations and fake interests in order to trick or scam their victims. You should be careful of suspicious profiles or ones that randomly add you on sites like Facebook of people you don’t even know. There are tonnes of news stories out there about people being deceived by someone using a fake online profile, it is a good idea not be be too trusting of people you don’t know online. Resist sharing your personal details with people you don’t know. Take a look at this news.com.au article about how someone who was recently divorced was tricked at a vulnerable time by someone pretending to be someone they were not.
  4. Phone calls or texts asking for money: Sometimes scammers will pretend to be from well-known companies and call or text people asking for money to be paid for bills that are owed. They may ask for your payment details on the phone to process the payment, but they are just pretending to be from the company and are stealing your credit card details. At IPSTAR we offer payments over the phone through Auspost Billpay or you can log into the customer portal and pay securely there. If you are talking to someone on the phone but you are in doubt if they are actually from the company they claim to be, find the correct phone number on their official website and call the company directly yourself. IPSTAR support can be reached on 1300 464 778.

If you suspect that you have been approached by a scammer online or over the phone you can report what happened to the ACCC and they will investigate what happened. You can report scams to the ACCC by clicking here.

The ACCC also has a great website called Scam Watch which reports on current scams that are known to be occurring and you can read the news there to see if there’s anything you need to be wary of or protect yourself against. You can find that right here. 

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