Think before you click - beware of phishing

Scams are something we all need to be aware of, both online and offline. And while scams may take many forms, they are all alike in their aim – to steal or cheat you out of money or information. A few common sense steps will make you very difficult to scam!

A common type of scam is known as phishing. Phishing is a fake or deceiving electronic message, such as an email or a text, that tries to elicit a response from you, such as revealing your personal or financial information to a scammer.

There are some common features in phishing emails that can make them easier to recognise. Some are more sophisticated than others, but in most cases the language is poor; they’re full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes; the logos or the branding that is supposed to represent the company they are sent from is wrong; and they often contain a too-good-to-be-true offer to entice you into opening them, for example: ‘click here to claim your refund’. In some cases, they also have a sense of urgency like ‘traffic infringement’ or ‘bill to pay’.

These emails are designed to trick consumers into clicking on embedded links, so that they disclose their personal details, like their name, address and banking details. These details are then captured and can be used illegally.

Sometimes, these links and attachments could be infected with malicious software (known as ‘malware’) which, when clicked, starts to infect your device and possibly give other people access to your information.

It pays to be a little suspicious. Think before you click and don’t become the next phishing victim.

Top tips to avoid being a victim of phishing emails

  1. Beware of unsolicited requests for sensitive information – don’t click on embedded links in emails or websites you don’t know or trust.
  2. If you get an email from someone you do know and it asks you to click on a link but the way the email is written isn’t their normal email style, call or text them and ask if it really is them sending the email.
  3. If in doubt, visit trusted websites by typing the internet address (URL) directly into the browser address bar, rather than clicking on a link embedded in an email.
  4. Never respond to requests for personal information in an unexpected email or pop-up window.
  5. If in doubt, always contact the company that claims to be the sender of the email or pop-up window, using their official contact details.
  6. Make sure all your devices are protected with regularly updated anti-virus software and regularly update the operating system software.
  7. Use a spam filter to help block unsolicited and unwanted email.

For more information on protecting yourself from scams: http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Consumers/Scams.page and www.telstra.com.au/cybersafety.

This article was produced by Telstra for inclusion on the Seniors Card website.