What are Phishing Scams and how can you avoid them

23 June, 2022

Nobody wants to fall prey to a phishing scam but unfortunately this is the far too common reality in Australia. Scammers are becoming more and more cunning, making it harder to decipher what’s real. Practically since the inception of the internet, scammers make huge profits from unsuspecting victims and don’t look to be going anywhere soon. The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to be aware and follow these basic rules. 

What are phishing scams?

Phishing is a type of online scam that targets consumers by sending them an email or text message that appears to be from a well-known source. For example, they may pretend to be your internet provider, your bank, the tax department and so on. Their basic aim is to trick the target into giving out their personal information such as their bank account numbers, passwords or credit card numbers, or to deploy malicious software on the victim’s computer.

How can you avoid Phishing Scams? 

Stay Informed About New Phishing Techniques: New phishing scams are being developed all the time. Without staying on top of them, you could inadvertently fall prey to one. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for news about any new phishing scams that may be going around. 

Think Before You Click:

It is ok to click on links when you are on trusted sites, however, you may like to reconsider clicking on links that come from random emails or instant messages. Hover over links you are unsure of before clicking on them. Do they lead to where they say they do? A phishing scam may claim to be from a legitimate company and when you click the link to the website, it may look exactly like the real one. If you are not 100%, it is always a good idea to go directly to the source rather than clicking the potentially dangerous link. 

Verify the Site’s Security

It’s natural to be a little wary about supplying sensitive financial information online. That’s why it is so important that you check the site’s security before you do so. A good general rule of thumb is to ensure the URL starts with “https” and has a closed lock icon near the address bar. 

Install an Anti-Phishing Toolbar

Most popular internet browsers can be customised with anti-phishing toolbars. They run quick checks on the sites that you are visiting and compare them to lists of known phishing sites. If you stumble upon a malicious site, the toolbar will alert you. 

Change Passwords Regularly

If you have online accounts, you should get into the habit of regularly changing your passwords so that you prevent an attacker from gaining unlimited access to your information. Your accounts may have been compromised without you even knowing, so adding that extra layer of protection through password rotation can prevent ongoing attacks while also locking out potential attackers. 

Ignore Pop-Ups

Pop-Ups aren’t just irritating, they are often linked to malware as part of attempted phishing attacks. Most browsers now allow you to download and install free ad-blocker software that will automatically block most of the malicious pop-ups. If one does manage to evade the ad-blocker though, don’t be tempted to click. Occasionally pop-ups will try and deceive you with where the ‘Close’ button is, so always try and look for an ‘x’ in one of the corners. 

Never give out personal information online

As a general rule, you should never share personal or financially sensitive information over the internet. A bank or telephone company will never ask for your bank details via email or text message. When in doubt, go and visit the main website of the company in question, get their number and give them a call. Most of the phishing scams will direct you to pages where entries for financial or personal information are required. 

Trust your Gut

At the end of the day, trust your gut. If something doesn’t look right it is probably because it isn’t. If you ever receive an email or text message requesting your personal information or prompting you to click a link that is not from a trusted source, don’t do it. Report the act to Scam Watch. If you have ever received an email or text message from Central West Credit Union that you think may be a scam, please get in touch today. We take these actions very seriously and will try and help in any way we can.