Cyber scams are proliferating and we’re all on our computers more at the moment – that means we’re more vulnerable. The Federal Government has just committed more than a billion to cyber security but we don’t all have to spend up. Individuals can achieve better security through simple measures … keeping software up to date, thinking before clicking, keeping online activity and transactions to essentials.

Australians lost over $634 million to scams of all sorts in 2019, according to the latest ACCC figures and this has skyrocketed. Since the Covid outbreak, this has more than doubled    ACCC’s Scamwatch has taken reports of losses more than $1,371,000 and more than 3,000 reports mentioning the virus.

Common techniques used by scammers to manipulate the unsuspecting include making exclusive offers that you don’t want to miss out on, or asking for small commitments, such as completing a survey, to make the victim more likely to comply with larger schemes. Scammers often pretend to have a connection with you. So it’s important to stop and check, even when you are approached by what you think is a trusted organisation.  Scammers impersonate the Australian Taxation Office, Medicare, Health Department, myGov or other government agencies in an attempt to trick people into clicking on malicious links designed to steal their personal and financial information.

A scam that does both – asks for a small commitment and impersonates reputable organisation – has impersonated Australia Post (AP) and asked for just $2 for a parcel to be delivered. AP has warned customers to be on the lookout for scammers posing as AP in emails and text messages. The messages include a link directing the user to a fake Australia Post website that requests financial information and MyPost credentials. A text message from a scammer, says a delivery to you is held up because payment was short of just $2 – it read: “Your delivery has been stopped at our depot. Please resolve the issue here.”

There are also superannuation scams offering to help you access money in your superannuation or ensuring you’re not locked out of your account under new rules during the virus or assessing whether your superannuation account is eligible for various benefits or deals. Of course there are online shopping scams — fake online stores claiming to sell products that don’t exist —these days, it’s cures or vaccinations for COVID-19, and products such as face masks.

More obviously unbelieveable is the latest cryptocurrency celebrity endorsement scam using the hashtag#COVID-19  and impersonating Chris Hemsworth or Nicole Kidman or similar celebs. If you see this sort of ad – don’t click on any links.

You can get a more comprehensive idea of the scams including how the fraudulent messages look at  Scamwatch

To get the basics, listen to ABC RN interview  with  Rachael Falk, CEO of the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre in Canberra,  here

Download tips for individuals and small businesses here.

The ACCC’s recent, very big Targeting Scams report  covers scam trends over a decade.