Don't make your home an easy mark for burglars. Take simple steps to keep your home secure:
- Keep doors locked. Whether you are home or leaving the house to run a quick errand, it's a good practice to keep doors locked.
- Walk around your house, and go room to room to look for easy ways for intruders to gain entry. Opportunity and access can make your home a target.
- Buy timers that automatically switch lamps and radios on and off when you're not at home. Install a motion detector light over your garage, and at entryways. At night, the lights will go on when you arrive home, or if someone walks up to your house.
- When you move into a new home, have the locks changed immediately. Get a deadbolt lock system. Your installer will provide a lock system for all doors that use the same key.
- Avoid giving copies of your house keys to service providers, such as housekeepers or dog walkers.
- Trim overgrown trees and shrubs around your house that may shield an intruder from view.
- It's never a good idea to allow a stranger into your home, whether the person is asking you to sign a petition or offering to trim your trees. The person may be trying to "case" your home and return later to steal valuables.
- If you are going on vacation, make sure you stop newspaper and mail delivery, or ask a trusted neighbor to collect the items, so they do not pile up at your house.
Identity fraud is a growing concern in Australia. Today it is possible for someone to obtain a range of identifying documents and/or information through fraud, deception or theft. Completely false documents can also be created using stolen personal information. These documents can then be misused in order to profit at our expense. For example, bank account details, date of birth and tax file numbers can be used to take funds out of bank accounts or fraudulently apply for loans.
This unlawful use of another person's personal information is known as identity-related fraud.
There are a number of simple precautions to take in relation to the disclosure, disposal, maintenance, and storage of your personal information in order to reduce the risks of becoming a victim of identity-related fraud.
- Disclosure: do not provide personal information and data to anyone unless you have reason to trust them. In particular, verify the identity of anyone claiming to be from your bank or credit card company, or offering you the chance to receive a prize or other valuable item. You could do this by checking their address, asking someone else about them, or telephoning them back — even if they are overseas.
- Be careful with the personal information you convey in public. When disclosing your personal information on the phone or entering a PIN into an ATM or EFTPOS terminal, make sure that no one is watching or listening to you.
- Disposal: do not deposit ATM, debit and credit card receipts in public places. Take the receipts with you and destroy or shred them carefully. Carefully destroy or shred expired documents such as driving licences, passports, credit cards and old financial records such as tax returns and bank statements. If you wish to retain them then keep them under lock and key.
- Maintenance: maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts to ensure that they do not include any transactions you did not make. Keep track of when you are to receive your financial statements, replacement cards and utility bills, to ensure that they arrive and are accurate.
- Storage: store your valuable official documents (such as passports and birth certificates) as well as financial and accounting records in a secure place. Do not carry official identification documents, such as your passport or birth certificate, unless you need them.
- Use a locked mailbox. Never leave a credit card or cheque in your mailbox. If you leave town, have your mail held at your local post office or ask a person you trust to pick up your mail on a daily basis. Do not leave documents such as car registration papers or expired drivers licences in the glove box of your car or lying around your home. Do not carry your tax file number, PIN or passwords in your purse or wallet.
How to protect yourself from online scams - 'Nigerian Scam'
The ‘Nigerian Scam’, also known as the 419 scam, involves a wealthy foreigner who needs the victim’s help moving large sums of money. In return the victim is promised a large cut of the money. This is an old scam that is now most commonly carried out via email. Don’t fall for this common scam, follow the tips below, read about what to look out for and learn how the scam works.
The scammers typically email large numbers of people at once. They find email addresses from mailing lists. The email will offer large sums of money for helping. The victim could be asked to help anyone from a government official to a prince to a bank employee. If the victim agrees to take part there will inevitably be some delay or problem that requires money. If they pay, all the victim will end up with is more delays and problems that need more money. Once the victim stops paying they will never hear from the scammer again. Don’t fall for this scam, never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
This is a hugely successful scam and has been running for decades. There are records of similar scams as early as the late 19th century, however the current incarnation became popular in the 1980’s. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been scammed from innocent people.
Read this sample to get a better idea of the format used by scammers.
REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
FIRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE AS BEING UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND 'TOP SECRET'. I AM SURE AND HAVE CONFIDENCE OF YOUR ABILITY AND RELIABILITY TO PROSECUTE A TRANSACTION OF THIS GREAT MAGNITUDE INVOLVING A PENDING TRANSACTION REQUIRING MAXIIMUM CONFIDENCE.
WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN IMPORATION OF GOODS INTO OUR COUNTRY WITH FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN NIGERIA. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID TRAPPED FUNDS.
What to look out for:
- An offer that’s too good to be true.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes.
- False documents bearing government stamps or seals.
- Requests for money transfers through non-reversible channels, for example, wire transfers. Never send money using these channels unless you are certain of the recipient’s identity.
- Variations of the basic scam. These range from lottery scams to employment scams but all take the same basic form. A large sum of money is offered but a small sum is first required.
- Never send money to someone you have only met online.
- Don’t let the name fool you, this scam can originate in any country. There are hundreds of versions in existence.
- There is only so much local law enforcement can do, therefore the best protection is an awareness of the scam.
- The victim often believes they were complicit in a crime by sending money, for example the request for a transfer may be for a bribe, so to avoid admitting this they don’t tell others about the ‘transaction’.
- Always talk to a friend or relative before sending any money.
How to protect yourself from online scams - 'Romance Scam'
The ‘Romance Scam’ typically starts with a fake profile on a dating or social media site. This fake profile will have been set up by a scammer looking to swindle an innocent victim. After the scammer contacts the victim, or the victim contacts the scammer, they will soon suggest a more private means of communication, for example email. The scammer will ask the victim for money as soon as they think that the victim has become emotionally invested. Don’t fall for this scam, never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. To avoid this scam learn how it works, read what to look out for and follow the tips below.
The scammer may request money for any number of reasons. The most common reasons are that they need money for a passport or flights to visit the victim, for medical treatment or so they can continue communicating with the victim.
What to look out for:
- One technique used by scammers is to entice the victim to perform sexual acts on webcam. They record the victim and use the footage to extort money. They threaten to send the footage to the victim’s family and friends if they don’t send money.
- The scammer will express strong emotions in an unusually short period of time.
- Scammers often claim that they are currently travelling, working or serving overseas.
- Requests for money may not be as overt as other scams.
- The scammer may begin by sending the victim small gifts.
- Professional looking photographs on dating and social media sites. Scammers often take their photos from magazines or other websites.
- Never send money to someone you have only met online. Be particularly wary when using non-reversible channels, for example wire transfers.
- Try to remove emotion from your decision making.
- Always talk to a friend, relative or fair trading agency before sending money.
- Be careful about how much information you share online.
- Never agree to transfer money for someone else, this could be money laundering.
How to protect yourself from online scams - 'Phishing Scam'
‘Phishing’ scams are emails that trick victims into giving out personal information. Phishing scams are generally carried out over email. The scammer creates a realistic looking message that appears to have come from the victim’s bank, telecommunication provider, social networking site or other business. The most common information the scammer aims to steal is bank and credit card numbers that allow them to steal money from their victim. Avoid this scam by learning how it works, reading what to look out for and following the tips below.
The email will look genuine and use what appears to be a genuine address. In reality the scammer has copied the business’s logo and message format. The email will typically contain a link to a website with a similar URL to that of the real business. The website will also appear genuine. This link will ask for the details the scammer wants to steal.
What to look out for:
- Emails that appear to be from your financial institution or telecommunications provider, even if the email appears to be genuine.
- An email that doesn’t address you by your proper name.
- Grammar and spelling mistakes in emails.
- Claims that your details are needed for security updates, maintenance, to verify your account or to prevent a threat of fraud. Phishing emails may even tell the victim that they are due a refund, or that they have been overcharged.
- Never send money or give your details to someone you don’t know and trust.
- Never reveal your details to websites when you get the link from an email that appears to be from a business.
- Do not open emails that appear to be suspicious.
- Never open links or files found in spam emails.
- Never access an internet account from a link in an email. Always type the address yourself, or use a bookmarked URL.
- Never ring phone numbers found in emails, always find the number yourself using a trusted source.
- Ask a friend or relative if you are suspicious about the contents of an email.
- A legitimate institution will never send an email asking for your details.
How to protect yourself - 'Card Skimming'
‘Card skimming’ is the illegal copying of information from credit cards. It is similar to the ‘phishing scam’ but ‘card skimming’ doesn’t take place online. Avoid becoming a victim of this scam by learning how it works, what to look out for and following the tips below.
Scammers steal victim’s details then run up charges on the victim’s bank account. After the scammer has skimmed the victim’s card they create a fake card with the victim’s details on it.
Scammers can also use card skimming as a means for identity theft. By stealing personal information scammers can even take out loans in the victim’s name.
What to look out for:
- A shop assistant that takes your card out of sight when processing your transaction.
- Being asked to swipe your card through more than one machine.
- Unusual or unauthorised transactions on your account.
- Watch out for anything suspicious about the card slots at ATM’s, particularly attached devices.
- Keep your credit cards safe.
- Never share your PIN.
- Never keep a written copy of your PIN.
- Report suspicious transactions on your bank statement to your bank.
- Choose passwords and PIN’s that are difficult to guess.
How to protect yourself - 'Carbon tax repeal scam'
Following the repeal of the carbon tax, consumers and businesses should be alert of scammers. There have been recent reports of scammers taking advantage of dollar figures quoted by the media about how much consumers and businesses could save after the repeal of the carbon tax. Don’t make yourself a target, learn how the scam works and read tips and what to look out for below.
This scam involves calls or emails to victims with false claims that they are entitled to money upfront. Scammers have often used government programs and announcements to trick victims, this is simply a variation of that old scam. The scammer will pretend to be from a government department in order to appear legitimate. Scammers will try anything to con victims out of their money, some common claims include that money is due because of a tax refund or concession, a one-off payment, a discount or even a bonus. Once the scammer has a victim on the hook they will ask for money via wire transfer, or for the victim’s bank details.
What to look out for:
- Phone calls or emails out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government department or business.
- Claims that you are entitled to money because of the carbon tax repeal.
- Administration or other upfront fees in order to receive payments.
- Similar scams using other government programs or announcements.
- Requests for wire transfers. Money sent in this manner is nearly impossible to recover.
- If you receive a phone call in the manner above, hang up.
- If you are unsure if you are being scammed, talk to a trusted friend.
- If you are unsure of a caller’s identity contact the body they claim to be from directly. Use a number independently found, not one provided by the caller.
- Never give your bank details out over the phone unless you made the call and the number came from a trusted source.
- If you think you might have provided your bank details to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately.
How to protect yourself - 'Missed call scam'
Missed call scams start when the victim receives a phone call that they didn’t answer in time. These scams can cost the victim a lot of money without the victim even realising they’ve been scammed. Read the tips and what to look out for below and learn how the scam works to help protect yourself.
The scammer first calls the victim and hangs up so quickly that the victim has no chance of answering the call. The victim’s phone will register a missed call to a number the victim doesn’t recognise. If the victim calls the number back they will be redirected to a premium rate number without their knowledge. This will charge money to the victim’s bill every minute the scammer keeps them on the phone.
What to look out for:
- Missed calls from numbers you don’t recognise.
- Calls telling you that you won a prize and that in order to claim it, you must ring a provided number.
- A missed call when you didn’t hear your phone ring.
- Numbers beginning with 190, these are premium rate numbers.
- When you return a missed call, you hear a recorded message.
- Ignore missed calls from numbers you don’t recognise.
- Be careful of phone numbers beginning with 190, or texts from numbers starting with 19. These are premium numbers, if you call or text them, you will be charged an additional rate.
- If you are unsure about a phone number, ask a trusted friend or relative.
- Some phone companies can put a bar on premium rate numbers, if you are worried, or you frequently receive these scams, contact your phone company and find out.
How to protect yourself - 'Website Hacks'
'Website Hacks' occur when sites that are built with inadequate security measures are exploited by hackers and scammers. There have been many significant security lapses at major companies, including Yahoo, LinkedIn, Adobe, Dropbox and Snapchat. Hackers may have access to your personal information if you have an account at a compromised site. Often, the information, which can include email addresses, credit card details, names and postal addresses, is on-sold to other scammers, making victims vulnerable on multiple fronts. To avoid this scam, read what to look out for and follow the tips below.
What to look out for:
- Emails from companies or websites warning of a data breach.
- News reports of major hacks or data releases.
- Unusual log-in attempts to your online services
- Don't use the same password on more than one site.
- Regularly update your passwords.
- Only sign up for accounts at trustworthy sites.
- Avoid using common or easily guessed passwords.
- Always use two-factor authentication where it is available.
- Use online services like "Have I Been Pwned?" to check if your data is publicly available.