Scams come in all forms, but in the digital age, phishing has become the scam of choice.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of scam that lures you into providing your personal details such as usernames or passwords. The scammer will often masquerade as a legitimate company. The intent of a scammer is to fool the recipient of the call, SMS or email into believing that the content of the message requires your urgent attention or an offer of something that may be of interest to you.
For example, a request from your bank or a call from a charity after a recent event such as natural disaster.
Why are phishing scams becoming harder to spot?
Nowadays, scams can appear to be legitimate. With copied designs, counterfeit logos and similar signatures - phishing attempts are becoming much harder to identify. In order to protect your privacy and account information, it’s now more important than ever to know how to spot attempts at phishing.
How to identify phishing scams?
Here are some handy tips to help you identify phishing scams:
Requests for personal information
Any emails, call or SMS’s requesting private information are a blatant warning sign.
Note: any communication you’ve received from Optus will never ask to confirm bank details or provide passwords for verification.
Incorrect spelling, grammar and use of odd phrases
If a message contains poor grammar and spelling or shows the incorrect use of a common phrase/ term, there is a high probability that the email received is not authentic.
Don’t click on links or download suspicious attachments
Don’t click on any links or open any attachments from unknown sources. Scammers often use disguised websites or downloadable apps to install harmful software such as spyware or malware. For example, a scammer may claim that you’re eligible for a prize and direct you to click on link. The real URL will often be shortened to appear seemingly more legitimate.
Question the authenticity of a phone number
If you’ve received an unsolicited call and you’re unsure whether the caller is legitimate, hang up. If necessary, head to the company’s website or look up their number in a public directory. Remember, scammers can use number spoofing software to give the appearance of a local number.
Let unfamiliar numbers ring out to voicemail
Let the number ring out to voicemail and check the number by typing it directly into Google search. There are number of directories available online where you can find more information about the owner of a number.
Intimidating language or the offer of a gift in exchange for a simple request
The scammer may:
Threaten prosecution or financial loss i.e. the scammer claims to be from a government agency such as the ATO or a debt collection agency. They’ll often send you a link to enter your details or ask
Offers prize money or claims that you’ve been randomly selected to receive a gift
Claims that your device has a virus and only they can remove it for a fee
How to manage phishing scams?
When in doubt, contact the company that the scammer has purported to be calling on the behalf of. Never use the contact details provided in the message. Always source the companies contact details from a legitimate source.