As technology progresses and the cyber-world becomes more and more intricate, it’s becoming harder to spot online scams. According to Savvy’s report on online scams, cybercrime has reached unprecedented levels in the country. In fact, more than $10 million was lost to scams in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of the previous year. 

As remote employment in Australia has become a norm due to the pandemic, cybercriminals have gained an advantage. It’s a frightening reality that is being fueled by an increase in phishing scams, identity theft and other types of cybercrimes. There are now huge concerns for both individuals and organisations in Australia. 

Even in the wake of the flood that devastated New South Wales and Queensland, online scams persist. Scammers are taking advantage of the tragedy by posing as charities and government agencies.

Since the beginning of February, the Scamwatch project in New South Wales and Queensland has received at least 45 scam reports related to flooding, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). At least six people claimed to have lost at least $54,308 from the 45 reports the ACCC was aware of.

SMS messages, pre-recorded phone messages offering money to flood victims, scammers impersonating Telstra or NBN workers, fake charities, raffles or donation requests, and phone scammers impersonating the State Emergency Service or government departments offering flood relief payments are just some of the scams that have been reported in recent weeks.

This is very alarming. 

 As such, here are some tips to help you avoid these scams:

  1. Check if an organisation is registered as a charity on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s website.
  1. Don’t assume a caller is who they say they are — if you have any doubts, hang up. If you want to donate, call back on a verified number.
  1. Be careful when clicking on links in emails and SMS messages — they could be malicious. And if you’re asked for personal information, don’t provide it unless you trust the organisation.
  1. We recommend doing your research before donating or offering help – check that you’re dealing with a legitimate organisation by contacting them directly via their website or through a trusted source (such as a government agency). NEVER click on links in emails or social media posts or respond to requests for personal information – even if they seem legitimate.
  1. Be on the lookout for phishing scams, where scammers pretend to be from banks and other financial institutions, offering “emergency relief” payments. They then try to gain access to your bank account via fake websites that collect your personal information.

It’s important to remember that most legitimate organisations will never send unsolicited emails requesting personal information. If you receive such a message, you should call the organisation directly using the contact details listed on its official website to verify.

Remember that if it sounds too good to be true or every bit like a scam, it probably is. Stay safe online and take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family.