Scams have been around for centuries, and anyone who has watched Leonardo DiCaprio play the famed Frank Abagnale Jr in ‘Catch me if you can’, will have seen a number of cheque and identity fraud scams.
As technology has evolved, so have the scams. Whether you’re getting unsolicited phone calls, SMS’s, emails to name a few, it can be hard to know what is fake and what is real.
Always remember that scammers will attempt to:
- Gain your trust
- Have their own verification procedures such as directing you to a website they have created or provide a phone number they want you to call
- Appeal to your emotions to make you act
- Create a sense of urgency1
What to look out for
As per the Scamwatch website1 if you know what to look out for, it can make it easier to spot scams. Remember to be careful if someone:
- you don’t know contacts you out of the blue
- you’ve never met in person asks for money
- asks you to pay for something or to give them money through unusual payment methods such as gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrencies
- asks you to pay for something in advance — especially through an unusual payment method
- asks you for personal information, like your bank details or passwords, or access to your computer
- pressures you into buying something or making a decision quickly offers you something that sounds too good to be true — like an online shopping deal, a prize for winning a competition, an unclaimed inheritance or an invitation to invest in an ‘amazing’ scheme.
Other red flags
Simple things to look out for in scams include:
- Spelling mistakes – for example using American English (AE) spelling instead of British English (BE) for an Australian page. This could look like behavior (AE) instead of behaviour (BE) or emphasize (AE) instead of emphasise (BE).
- Page not functioning properly – Sometimes the page may look correct, however, the only place on the page you can input data is in the username and password section, all other links don’t work.
- Logos – sometimes the business logo is not the current one being used.
- Links – any links in an email and SMS are red flags. The email and SMS could be disguised as a bank, MyGov, AusPost etc asking you to update your details. Do not click on the link. If you want to be sure you’re not missing out on important information, go to your web browser (e.g. google.com), search the institution or business there and enter via their webpage.
- Only one payment method option available - in addition to the unusual payment methods is when someone only offers one type of payment method. Many scam advertisements will do this and PayID is one of the requests seen.
- Unsolicited phone calls - may direct you to programs such as AnyDesk, TeamViewer, LogMeIn or GoToAssist to name a few. From there, the scammers can gain access to your computer and steal your identity or manipulate your screen when logging into your bank account. A quick search on Youtube will give you many videos by digital creators explaining how the scams work.
Above all, always be vigilant and if you think you’ve unintentionally become a victim of a scam, call the institution or business immediately.