Scams Awareness Week comes to an end today, part of a national campaign run by the Scams Awareness Network urging the public to ask themselves if they are ‘too smart to be scammed?’.
Scam statistics over the last three years show that an increasing number of Australians are being targeted by scams, resulting in a loss of $107 million in 2018. In contrast, $90 million was scammed in 2017. With approximately $78 million lost in scams so far in 2019, it is clear that scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
Are you too smart to be scammed?
As part of the National Scams Awareness Week, Australians can test their scams knowledge by taking the ‘too smart to be scammed?’ quiz online. The quiz challenges users to spot the signs of a scam. Have a go for yourself, attempt one of the questions below:
Phishing Scam: Bank SMS
You receive a new SMS from your bank. After looking at it closely, you realise that although the previous SMS was real, the new SMS is a scam.
What are the five signs that this is a scam?
Check your response against the answers below. How did you go?
- Scammers can make messages look real. Even if you’ve previously received legitimate SMS messages from the same number, don’t assume all following messages are real. Scammers can ‘spoof’ real phone numbers or email addresses, to make it appear that they come from your actual bank or another legitimate contact.
- It’s different in style from the first SMS. The previous SMS is legitimate and it provides information only. It tells you to log into your account but provides no links that could lead to potentially malicious websites.
- It has a malicious link. The new SMS contains a link to a phishing website. These types of websites attempt to trick you into giving out personal information such as your bank account details, passwords and credit card numbers. Even if you think the text might be real, it’s safer not to click on any links, and to log into your account by typing your bank’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator) directly into the address bar. The address bar appears at the top of your web browser, and the numbers and letters that make up the URL are the directions to the website or webpage.
- It’s not secure. Legitimate sites containing sensitive information will use https not http, but don’t rely on this alone — some scam sites use https too.
- It has a sense of urgency. Scams often try to create a sense of urgency. Don’t rush — take the time to think about what the message is telling you to do and consider whether it’s real.
It can happen to anyone
According to the ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard, ‘many people are confident they would never fall for a scam but often it’s this sense of confidence that scammers target. People need to update their idea of what a scam is so that we are less vulnerable.’
Of all current scams, investment scams are the most sophisticated and convincing, resulting in the highest losses. Social media is also a hot spot for scams with ‘Facebook lottery’ scams, pyramid schemes and cryptocurrency scams. Between January and July 2019, $14.76 million was lost as a result of cryptocurrency investment scams.
Where to get help
If you are needing extra help on understanding scams, Scamwatch suggests consulting ASIC’s list of companies you should not deal with; in addition to being more vigilant on social media, shopping online and when answering the phone. There are educational videos on scams, providing tips and tricks on how to spot a scam and alerts and other scam news is available from Scamwatch and their Twitter @scamwatch_gov.
If you’ve lost money to a scam or given personal details to a scammer, you can seek help here.