Experts share their top tips on how to protect yourself against scams

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Ever seen an ad on Instagram, Facebook — anywhere on your phone really — and thought, “Wow, this deal is too good to be true”?

Well, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Catriona Lowe says you could be right.

The offer for that jacket, those amazing shoes or tickets to a Taylor Swift concert could very well be a scam.

Scams are everywhere. And in this digital age, it is hard to avoid them. So how do you protect yourselves?

We spoke to experts from banks, police, telcos and fraud agencies. Here are the five tips they recommend to help avoid getting scammed.


Remember the Bruno Mars song from 2015, that gets everyone nodding their head to the beat, even now.

Uptown Funk’s lyric — “Don’t believe me, just watch” — is essentially the mantra to avoid scams.

“Take a step back,” is the advice of Detective Sergeant John Cheyne of Victoria Police’s cybercrime squad.

The one message all the experts stressed was to not immediately respond to the text, email, phonecall you get asking you to share your personal details, or worse your bank account details.

Detective Sergeant Cheyne says scammers will often try to create a sense of urgency. They put you under stress to affect your judgement, but you don’t need to give your number, your banking code or anything right away.

“Stop, talk to somebody and really think about what you’re doing,” he says.

Never move money

No matter what the scam, soon enough you will be talking about money. In bank accounts, in cryptocurrency or some other form but you will be asked to pay or transfer a value.

ANZ’s head of consumer protection Shaq Johnson says if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from your bank – pay attention to what you have been asked to do.

“The bank will never ask you to move your money,” he says.

But what if you need to give your account details to someone to get money in your account? Let’s say to get paid for the work-from-home advertisement you replied to.

ACCC and National Anti-Scam Centre’s Catriona Lowe says that is still something to be suspicious of.

“Be extra suspicious if they [then] ask you to make a payment, particularly in cryptocurrency, to access your so-called wages,” she says.

Check, is it from a trusted source?

The general rule of thumb – check, double check, triple check before you give your personal details or transfer money.

Where you check your information from is crucial here.

It should not be the bank number that texted you or the number listed at the end of the email you received.

“Contact your bank immediately on a number that is listed on their website,” Shaq Johnson says.

Go to the actual company or organisation website and verify the information. Always do your own research.

Just. Don’t. Click

It is so easy to let your finger tap on that blue link in the message. Curb your curiosity, and do not click on any links.

Be wary of emails, messages and calls claiming to be from delivery and toll companies, the ATO, Centrelink and MyGov.

“Scammers have got access to sophisticated spoofing technology that can make something appear like it’s from a legitimate company,” Catriona Lowe says.

Even if everything in the message you have received looks legit, don’t click on the link. For payments always go to your bank’s trusted website and not a third party site.

See red flags? Flag them

One of the above steps stopped you in your tracks and you were not scammed. However, now you do know the person on the other end is likely a criminal.

Next step, report them.

If you report something as a scam or with your telco as a potential scam – then you stop that same message going to another person.

Telecommunication companies have people working to block numbers that they identify as spam or scams.

Don’t let them get away with it, report the trend you identify as a scam. It might help somebody else.

Bonus tip

Scams are highly sophisticated now. Scammers keep evolving so it is important the customer keeps learning too.

“You can no longer rely on that typo or it doesn’t look right. They look really good,” says Telstra chief information and security officer Narelle Devine.

“We need everybody to play their part.

“It is really important we keep talking about it and we keep educating people on what do the scams look like today?”

Keep checking for the latest warnings and follow these tips from the experts to keep yourself protected against scams.

And check out that has more advice and heaps of information on scams.

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By Tavleen Singh (Original ABC Article)