InvestSMART

1 in 3 Australians lose money to crooks

Over the past 12 months, scams have cost Australians $201 million. In the first three months of 2021 alone, crims fleeced their victims out of $63 million.
By · 26 Apr 2021
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26 Apr 2021 · 5 min read
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Research by RateCity.com.au shows vast numbers of Australians are losing money to crims through credit card hacks, identity theft or simply being tricked into handing over money.

Over the past 12 months, scams have cost Australians $201 million.  In the first three months of 2021 alone, crims fleeced their victims out of $63 million.

With one-third of us having lost money to cybercrooks, the sheer scale of the problem can’t be underestimated. As RateCity warns, scammers have an array of tactics to catch people off-guard, whether it’s through unsolicited text messages, hacking into emails or skimming your credit card.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be the next victim. Here are five simple ways to help keep scammers at bay.

1. Use strong passwords – it’s a no brainer that a unique password makes it harder for crims to hack into your computer or bank accounts. Which is why I shake my head reading the latest study by password manager NordPass, which shows the most commonly used password in 2020 was 123456. It takes cybercrooks less than a second to crack the code, and not surprisingly, this password has been exposed in over 23 million data breaches.

2. Keep strict privacy settings for social media – social media is a great way to stay connected, but without tough privacy settings crims can access your personal details, use your photos to create fake identities, or target you with a scam.

3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi – we all want to save on data costs but public Wi-Fi is just that – open to everyone.  If you must use a public Wi-Fi network, don’t send or receive sensitive information or login to bank or social media accounts.

4. Play it smart when shopping online – aim to stick with shopping websites you know and trust. Check sites are secure by looking for a closed padlock or key symbol in the URL. If you have doubts, do a Google search for reviews of the site. It can reveal some very dodgy operators.

5. Check your bank and credit card statements regularly – if you see a suspicious transaction, query it. A friend of mine aged in her 50s, recently saw an entry on her credit card statement for $300 worth of muscle supplements purchased from a store in the UK.  Needless to say, she hadn’t been out of Australia, nor had she spent several hundred bucks on bicep builders. A quick call to her card provider saw the transaction wiped and the compromised card replaced.

Don’t assume scams, fraud and identity theft won’t happen to you. A little extra vigilance goes a long way to keeping your money safe.  

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Paul Clitheroe
Paul Clitheroe
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