6 Simple Ways to Stay Safe from Online Scammers

PWD Blog Post Cyber Scammers

With all the Online Scammers in the world, Cybercrime poses a severe threat, as recent events have demonstrated. But you can secure your money and data by following the six simple actions below.

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The intrusions on Optus and Medibank served as a sobering reminder to Australians that we are all susceptible to identity theft and other types of cybercrime, including schemes intended to defraud us of our hard-earned money.

In 2021, Australians reported $324 million in losses to the Scamwatch programme of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, totalling 286,000 reports. These losses had dramatically escalated in 2022, reaching $381 million by September.

Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, malicious internet behaviour has increased globally. Cybercriminals increased their attempts to steal from the unaware through phishing campaigns, identity theft, and other digital deception as people started spending more and more of their work and leisure time online.

What can you do to safeguard yourself and lessen the possibility that your money or personal information may be stolen? We try with some common sense and provide some advice on avoiding falling victim to online fraud.

1. Choose strong passwords

The sole barrier between hackers and your email, bank, and other internet accounts may be passwords. However, many individuals don’t take enough time to select an original letter, number, and symbol combinations. Although simple to remember, passwords like 123456, qwerty123, or the names of your children or pets are also simple for hackers to decipher.

Get inventive, and our advice: “Many websites need at least eight characters, but you can enter more. Use words like “5daysRun2work!” that are reasonably complex yet manageable to remember.

And no matter how secure your passwords are, you shouldn’t just “set and forget” them. Changing them often can help you keep one step ahead of cybercriminals; some experts advise doing it three times each month. And even while it could be tempting, using the same memorable password for all your accounts is a mistake.

Reusing passwords puts you at risk of giving a hacker access to your whole digital life. Choose a different secure password for every account you have.

You can manage all of your log-ins by using a password management programme like LastPass, 1Password, or Dashlane.

2. Set up a PayID

Scams involving payment redirection are getting more prevalent. Typically, hackers may pretend to be a company or one of its workers and ask that future consumer payments be sent to a fake account.

These frauds can be avoided thanks to the PayID feature. It connects an identification, such as a phone number, email address, or ABN, to the bank account of a person or organisation. People can confirm the legitimacy of the account they send money to, thanks to the PayID system.

Setting up your own PayID through your bank is cost-free. It makes sense to do this if you wish to accept electronic payments from strangers.

If you have a PayID, you may avoid giving other parties your bank account number and BSB so they can send money to your account.

3. Monitor your accounts regularly

You may have been scammed if your account has unusual activity. It is advantageous to turn on alerts and notifications in the Banks app’s settings for this reason.

If you choose to be informed a withdrawal anytime is made from your account, we believe it will help you keep aware and respond quickly should a suspicious transaction take place.

If you believe your credentials have been hacked, you can temporarily lock your card via the Banks app. This prevents new purchases while having no impact on ongoing payments like direct debits.

4. Avoid unknown callers

A call is often the first step in a scam. It might be from someone informing you that you have won money or a reward, threatening you with a fee or the termination of service if you don’t act immediately, or posing as an employee of a telecom, utility, or other reputable company. To deceive you into giving up personal information, money, or both is always the final goal.

The best way to prevent falling victim is never to answer the phone unless you recognise the caller or have their number on your contact list.

Send these calls to voicemail to confirm they’re real before you answer. And if you do pick up the phone, never divulge any private information or make a purchase over the phone; instead, say you’ll contact the business back later to discuss.

5. Use multi-factor authentication

Nowadays, many businesses that engage with clients online provide the extra security of multi-factor authentication (MFA). The phrase describes a security feature that prevents someone from accessing their account without presenting multiple identification forms.

Suppose there is an option to turn on MFA. In that case, you should do so regardless of whether the business you’re working with has an authenticator app, an email or SMS verification service, a physical token, or something else.

Because of its enhanced security, it is far more difficult for cybercriminals who have obtained some of your personal information to pose as someone they are not.

6. Remain alert

Scammers are frequently persistent, convincing, and powerful persuaders. The greatest way to avoid their grasp is to be alert and aware.

The golden rule, according to Unni, is to never reply to emails, calls, or messages before carefully verifying them. “Remain sceptical, and scammers will have a lot tougher time using you.”

Never give up your account information, online banking login credentials, or one-time PIN over the phone or by email, just to be safe. Therefore, never give out this information over the phone or over email!

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