HOW TO STAY SAFE ONLINE

New ways of communicating, such as online or via text messages, can be a wonderful way to keep in touch with loved ones, so how can you enjoy staying connected while protecting yourself from scammers?

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According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, almost 6,500 Australians have reported phone calls from scammers trying to convince them to download software that gives access to home computers and their bank accounts.

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Older Australians have been the most vulnerable group, with people aged 65 and older losing more money than any other group, accounting for more than a third of total losses.

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Online and phone scammers use a variety of ways to try to access and steal people’s personal and financial information. These cyber criminals may pose as a delivery company trying to deliver a package to you, a government department such as the Australian Taxation Office or a trusted business, or, they may send a text message, asking you to return a phone call to an unknown number. Some scammers may call your phone to ask for access to your computer remotely to fix an urgent issue, or they might ask you to click on a link.

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By clicking on these links, scammers may be able to gain access to your phone to read your text messages, send text messages, make phone calls from your number, or access your contacts.

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Installing the software can also give scammers access to your passwords and accounts which they can then use to steal your money or personal information.

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Commonly called remote access scams, some scammers pretend to be from well-known organisations such as Telstra, eBay, NBN Co, Amazon, banks, government organisations, police, and computer and IT support organisations. They create a sense of urgency to make you give them access to your computer via remote access software.

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Once the scammer has control of your computer or device, they will ask you to log into applications such as emails, internet banking or PayPal accounts, which will allow the scammer to access your banking and personal information to impersonate you or steal their money.

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Tips for staying safe in cyberspace:

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• Remember, your bank will never ask you to give them access to your computer or accounts, nor will they ask for the codes to verify transactions. You should never provide those numbers to anyone except to verify transactions you are making in your mobile banking app or through your online banking.

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• If you think you may have been scammed you should contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.

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• Report any suspicious activity such as texts, calls or emails to the Scamwatch website.

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• Delete any suspicious messages immediately.

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