Don’t get burned by email scams this Summer
At this time of the year, Australia sees its fair share of extreme weather events. From savage storms to raging bushfires, these extreme weather conditions can take place unexpectedly, leaving Australians little time to consider the possibility of being the target of cybercrime. Cybercriminals will take advantage of these stressful situations, pursuing individuals and businesses when they least expect. As witnessed in the United States late last year during Hurricane Florence, cyber scammers are indiscriminate in who they choose to target and will attempt to make a profit in any way they can. However, there are actions you can take to identify these scams and protect yourself and your business from cyber criminals.
In 2018, ScamWatch received more than 17,000 reports of phishing scams across Australia, resulting in a loss of more than $530,000. Fraudulent emails, also known as phishing emails, commonly appear after major natural disasters in an attempt to take advantage of Australians’ generous nature. Phishing emails usually contain links or attachments that direct you to malicious websites. These websites download harmful malware onto your device without you knowing.
Australians should exercise extreme caution when handling emails with a subject line, attachment, or hyperlink that relates to emergency assistance. Even if the email appears to originate from a legitimate source, scammers will try to deceive you into believing that it’s from a trusted source. Australians are also reminded to be wary of fraudulent social media pleas, calls, texts, donation websites and door knock appeals relating to emergencies.
Similar to preparing your property for storms and bushfires, you should always prepare and be aware of email scams. Check links before clicking on or opening them, by simply hovering your mouse over the hyperlinked text. This reveals the address without having to open the link. If you don’t recognise or trust the address that shows up, try searching for the business in your browser. This will allow you to make an educated guess as to what sites you are visiting.
Always be suspicious of emails and socially engineered messaging from people or businesses you don’t know, particularly if they promise you financial gain, good health, or a solution to all your problems. Understand the types of cyber threats that may impact you.
Like the unpredictable nature of natural disasters, it can be easy to find yourself unexpectedly compromised by an email scam. If you think you’ve entered your credit card or account details into a phishing site, contact your financial institution immediately. If you believe your personal information has been compromised, contact IDCare on 1300 432 273 or via www.idcare.org.
Report all email and website scams to the ACCC via the ScamWatch report page.
If you think you have fallen victim to fraud, you can find more information on where to get help on the ScamWatch website.