We live in an age where our personal information becomes harder and harder to keep private and secure. Because of this we are at increased risk of scammers.
It can be easy to say “Oh I wouldn’t be fooled by them” but it’s tricky when they have information about you that you wouldn’t expect and it seems legit.
Firstly it’s important to do your best to keep your personal information safe. You can do this by:
- Ensuring your financial details are secured with effective password, recently Splash Data released the 2017 worst passwords, you can find more here – https://www.teamsid.com/worst-passwords-2017-full-list/
- Make sure that anyone who has access to your banking and accounting systems also keeps their passwords and your data secure.
- When you are throwing away information with your personal or financial information on it make sure you are destroying it securely – like shredding it – so that no one else can take this information and use it.
- Find out what protection is offered to you by your bank, often paying on your credit card for online purchases can offer you more security than bank deposit.
But, what about when the scammers do try and contact you? There are a few strategies here that you can use as well:
- For emails have a look at the url or email address before you click on any links. Often scammers emails will have links that don’t make any sense and don’t correlate.
- Over the phone never give out your personal information, if you are not sure you are talking to a legitimate organisation hang up and ring back their main number.
- Think twice before entering your details into online forms, often these websites will onsell your details and not only are you at risk of scammers but you may end up being pestered by telemarketers regularly.
- Don’t engage in “chain letter” type behaviour by forwarding spammy emails or copy and pasting social media posts which can leave you open to hackers – https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/facebook-copy-and-paste-dont-share-hackers/
- If in doubt you can contact Scamwatch – https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/ who also post regular updates of the latest scams doing the rounds.
Earlier this year ACCC realised information for consumers who had fallen prey to a Western Union scammer between 2004 and 2017. In this instance, as it was such a big operation they provided victims with a process to claim back their losses.
It is an unfortunate reality that we need to be aware of the risks of scammers but with some simple steps you can definitely protect yourself to a greater degree. It’s worth the effort to make it harder for them to target you.