With online scams on the rise during COVID-19, here are a few tips to protect yourself online.
What is an internet scam?
An internet scam is when someone uses the web to cheat an individual or organisation out of their money or personal information. Sometimes scams involve the perpetrator loading malicious software, known as ‘malware’ onto their victim’s computer. Scammers’ techniques are becoming more sophisticated every day, with the most successful scams often targeting vulnerable groups by posing as organisations of authority such as banks, insurance companies or superannuation companies.
What are insurance-related scams?
This is when a scammer pretends to be from a trusted organisation in an attempt to access the victim’s personal information, gain access to their computer or steal money. Phishing often takes the form of texts or emails and can even steal the branding from your own bank, insurer or super-fund, making them difficult to spot.
- Insurance agent fraud
It’s not uncommon for scammers to pretend to be insurance agents offering you new products, or claiming to be adjusting your cover in a bid to access your personal information. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Insurance fraud
Sometimes scammers make phone calls or send emails claiming that you were in an accident and asking for your details to complete an insurance claim. As realistic as these can seem, be very careful as they may be trying to steal information or money.
How to protect yourself against internet scammers
- Act with caution
Do not open attachments or click on links in suspicious emails, and remember that banks and insurance companies will never ask for your personal information over text or email. If you’re not sure that an email is real, hover over any URLs before clicking on them. This will show you the address you’re going to be directed to – a scam email will often show an unusual and unexpected URL. Remember that if you’re not sure then it’s better not to click.
- Keep your devices secure
Create strong passwords for your phone, computer, social media and email accounts. These should be difficult to guess, and not the names of pets or family members.
- Report scams
If you are the victim of an internet scam – or you think you have spotted one in action – you can report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission here.
- Check with your real provider
If you receive suspicious communication claiming to be from one of your providers, give your provider a direct call to check if it was them. Chances are it will be a scam.
In this day and age it’s important to be aware of the potential to get scammed. Follow TAL’s tips for protection, and keep an eye on your savings and retirement accounts to ensure they have not been targeted.
If you need further advice or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly. For more tips on staying safe online, see our guide to security.