Scams and Identity Theft - What to look out for and how to avoid them

5 November, 2021

Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else’s identity, without consent, to gain benefits. A growing issue in Australia, scams and identity theft can affect people of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. Trying to steal your money or personal information, scammers have become the modern day fraudsters. 

Scammers contact thousands of people every day - by phone, email, social media - so there’s a good chance you’ll be contacted one day, if you haven’t already. 
 
When a scammer first contacts you they don’t have any information about you and probably won’t even know if the email or phone number is working. They are just hoping that one of the thousand people whose identity they are trying to steal will respond. Unfortunately many people do. 
 
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you're least expecting it. They are getting smarter and taking advantage of new technology, new products and major events to create believable stories that will convince you to give them your money or personal details. 

 

Common types of scams and identity theft:

There are so many ways scammers try to steal peoples identity. Here are some of the common ways to look out for:

 

Phishing

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that scammers often use to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers. The scammer will often masquerade as a trusted entity and dupe a victim into opening an email, a text message or direct message on social media. 

 

Hacking

Hacking is another common method scammers use to fraud unsuspecting victims. Here they gain access to information on your computer, mobile device or network, by exploiting a security weakness. 

 

Fake Online Profiles

In this scenario, the scammer will set up a fake online profile on a social media platform or dating site making them look like a real person, potentially even someone in your friends list. They will most likely send you a ‘friend request’ or direct message. 

 

What scammers are trying to do with your stolen information

Scammers are generally trying to steal your name, address, credit card or bank account details. With this personal information they can access and drain your bank accounts, open new bank accounts in your name and take out loans, purchase expensive goods, steal your superannuation and more. 

 

How to Spot a Scammer

Scammers go to great lengths to appear trustworthy and legitimate so it's understandable that many people fall victim to their sly and cunning lies. There are, however, some things you can keep an eye out to protect yourself from scams and identity theft. 

 

Be aware

Firstly, just being aware that scams exist is so important. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether over the phone, email, in person or social media, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Just think, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is

 

Ignore Suspicious Links or Messages

Do not open any suspicious messages you receive, especially if it is asking you to open a link or  attachment in an email - delete them. If you’re unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as an online search or phone book. If you are still unsure, call the organisation they claimed to be working for. 

 

Never give a scammer remote access to your computer

Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or to install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus used to get access to your passwords and personal details. Even if they say they are from a well known company like Telstra - hang up - no legitimate company will ever ask you to do that. 

 

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

Unfortunately, if you’ve lost money it’s unlikely you'll get it back. However, there are steps you can take to ensure you are protected and do not fall victim in the future. 
  1. Contact us: if you’ve sent money or personal banking details to a scammer, contact your bank immediately. We will ensure your bank accounts and loans are secure and protected 
  2. Report scams to the ACCC’s Scamwatch to ensure nobody else gets hurt by these scammers
  3. Contact IDCARE: if you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, act quickly. Get in contact with IDCARE and recover your identity 
 
For more information about scams and identity theft, or to report any suspicious activity with your account, get in contact with us today