Australians reported a record $3.1 billion lost to scams last year. That's 80% more than the year before! As Scams Awareness Week 2023 unfolds, it is crucial for Australians to be well-informed and vigilant in protecting themselves from the ever-evolving landscape of online scams. With the increasing prevalence of online transactions and the increasing sophistication of scammers, understanding legal measures to avoid falling victim to scams has never been more critical. Here are some of our tips to avoiding online scams.

Stay informed about common scams

Knowledge is your first line of defence. Be aware of the common scams circulating in Australia. Whether it's phishing emails, fake invoices, or romance scams, staying informed empowers you to recognise potential threats. Government websites and law enforcement agencies regularly update information about the latest scams, providing valuable insights to help you navigate the digital landscape safely.

Verify the legitimacy of a business

Before making any financial transactions, especially online, verify the legitimacy of the businesses involved. Check for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and look for reviews or testimonials. Legitimate businesses have a traceable online presence and a reputation to uphold. If something seems off, it's better to be cautious and investigate further before providing any personal or financial information.

Secure your personal information

Guarding your personal information is paramount. Be cautious about sharing sensitive details online, especially on social media platforms. Scammers often use personal information to craft convincing phishing attempts or commit identity theft. Legitimate organisations will never ask for your passwords, credit card details, or other sensitive information via email or unsolicited messages.

Use secure payment methods

When making online transactions, opt for secure payment methods. Credit cards and reputable online payment platforms offer additional layers of security and fraud protection. Avoid transferring money through unconventional methods, such as wire transfers or gift-cards, as these are often preferred by scammers due to their irreversibility.

Be skeptical of unsolicited communications

Scammers often initiate contact through unsolicited emails, phone calls, or messages. Be skeptical of unexpected communication, especially if it involves urgent requests for money, personal information, or access to your computer. Legitimate organisations will not pressure you into immediate action, and they will provide verifiable contact information for you to reach out independently.

Regularly monitor your accounts

Frequently monitor your bank statements, credit reports, and online accounts for any suspicious activity. Early detection is crucial in mitigating potential damages caused by scams. If you notice any unauthorised transactions or unusual changes, report them to your financial institution and the relevant government authority immediately. If you are concerned that someone is falsely using your identity, ensure that you report your concern to your local law enforcement authorities.

Install and update security software

Protect your devices with reputable security software and keep it updated. Scammers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain unauthorised access to your personal information. Regularly updating your security software and operating systems helps safeguard against these potential threats.

Report scams to authorities

Finally, if you encounter a scam or suspicious activity, report it to the relevant authorities. In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) operates the Scamwatch website, where you can report scams and find information about the latest scams affecting Australians. Reporting scams contributes to collective efforts in combating fraudulent activities.

Concerned you may have fallen for a hoax? Contact New South Lawyers' commerical lawyers who can offer their professional advice on online scams.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. To that end, people should not rely on this communication as legal advice. Accordingly, they should seek formal legal advice for matters of interest arising from this communication.