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What steps can I take to protect myself from a cyber scam? Some easy tips!

What steps can I take to protect myself from a cyber scam? Some easy tips!

Published on August 16, 2023 by Martin SlatteryMartin Slattery

Cyber scams and scammers are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated in their attempts to steal money and personal details. Protecting yourself from online fraud, phishing and scams is crucial to safeguarding both your personal information as well as ensuring your financial well-being. In this article, we will discuss some of the ways you can be alert to scams and protect yourself from cyber scams.

Be alert to the fact that scams exist and target everyone

Scams including phishing attacks target everyone, and no one group is more likely to be a victim, and at some point, all of us can be vulnerable to a scam. Scams often succeed because they are designed to look like the real thing and can catch you off guard. When dealing with any uninvited contact in all forms in your everyday life, whether speaking with someone over the phone, by mail, email, social networking, or in person, you should always consider whether there is the possibility of a scam and be on guard. You should also take care with known contacts, such as financial institutions, as scammers will often use phishing scams designed to look like they are from a trusted provider.

Develop strong password practices

Creating strong, unique passwords is your first defence against cyber scams. You should follow these guidelines to ensure the protection of your online accounts:

  • Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Avoid using common phrases, personal information, or dictionary words.
  • Utilise a password manager to securely store and generate unique passwords for your online accounts.
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible for an added layer of security.

Enhance your email security

Email is a common way for cybercriminals to launch phishing attacks. You can protect yourself from email based scams with the following precautions:

  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails and never click suspicious links or download attachments from unknown sources.
  • Verify the email sender’s identity before sharing your personal or financial information.
  • Regularly update and use reputable anti-malware software to detect and block phishing attempts.
  • Be wary of urgent requests for sensitive information, as scammers often use urgency to manipulate a victim.
  • If you are concerned about an email that appears to be from a trusted source, contact that provider by phone first to verify any email or sms contact.

Exercise caution with personal information

Safeguarding your personal information is crucial in preventing identity theft and fraud. You can protect your sensitive data in the following ways:

  • Limit the amount of personal information you share online, especially on social media platforms.
  • Be cautious when providing your personal information over the phone, especially when the call is unsolicited.
  • Regularly review your privacy settings on social media accounts and adjust them to limit access to your personal information.
  • Monitor your financial statements and credit reports regularly to detect any suspicious activity.

Stay informed about common scams

Educating yourself about the latest cyber scams is essential to recognise and avoid potential threats. You can stay up to date by doing the following:

  • Keep an eye on the news that features cybersecurity updates and circulating scams and provides resources to stay informed about the latest scams and techniques cybercriminals use. The ACCC’s Scamwatch is a good place to start.
  • Be sceptical of offers that sound too good to be true, such as lottery or prize winnings.
  • Research unfamiliar websites or online sellers before making purchases or sharing any payment information.
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels suspicious or off, take a step back and investigate further before proceeding.

Secure your devices and networks

Securing your devices and networks is vital to protect against malware, viruses, and unauthorised access. You can do the following to enhance your security:

  • Keep your devices, antivirus software, and other applications updated with the latest security patches.
  • Use a reliable firewall and enable automatic updates for your router and modem firmware.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive activities like online banking or accessing personal accounts.
  • Regularly back up your data to an external hard drive or a secure cloud storage service to mitigate the risk of data loss.

Protecting yourself from cyber scams requires you to be proactive and stay informed about cybercriminals’ evolving and ever-changing techniques. Being vigilant and continuing to remain educated is vital to staying safe.

Where can I get help?

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission provides resources to assist you if you have been scammed and provides details of how to report scams so that you can warn others. In terms of any financial scam, the most important thing to do is contact your bank as soon as you are concerned you might have been scammed to see if they can put a stop to it. You can also report any scam to police online.

You can contact us at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers on 1800 059 278 or via our Contact Page and one of our lawyers could also assist you.

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