Protecting yourself online – are you doing enough?

Covid19 and it’s aftermath have seen a rise in time at home with family, hand washing, mask fashions and hilarious online content. Unfortunately it’s also seen a huge spike in online scams and digital attacks.

The ACCC scam division, Scamwatch, put out the below report showing a massive jump in both scams reported and total financial losses soon after the Covid19 lockdowns started.

2020 Statistics on Hacking

Scammers are capitalising on any areas of uncertainty or periods of change. Covid19 has been like Christmas for these unscrupulous operators (I could use other words but we’re a family-friendly company here!)

Some of the reported scams include:

  • Refunds from cancelled travel plans
  • Superannuation investment opportunities
  • Fake puppy sales
  • Rent relief
  • Government payment detail checking
  • Bush-fire donation appeals

There have been many scammer opportunities created from the desperation of financial hardship with massive job losses, changes in travel arrangements, releasing of Superannuation amounts and the uncertainty around government payments and rental obligations. Not to mention people being more desperate to believe they’ve won a lottery they never entered to help with…unfortunately the list goes on for creative stories told by scammers.

And there’s certainly money in it! The Australian losses tracked so far in 2020 alone for reported scams seen below totals nearly $53 million! That’s a lot of coin!

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Unfortunately it’s happened to some of our clients already! These people are savvy, experienced and switched-on business owners who were in group of many local operators taken in by one of these sophisticated traps. It’s heartbreaking and enraging to watch. So here’s our bit of advice for how to stay out of the growing number of Australians losing their hard earned money.

Phishing Scams

This is the type of scam we see the most. Emails claiming to be from Paypal, the ATO, the government, Telstra, your bank… the list is never ending! The charlatans’ skills are getting increasingly effective imitating the real deal so here’s some blanket rules to try stick to:

  • Never click a link in the email. Even if it is legit, go via a separate browser window to their website to login and check it that way
  • Check the full actual email of the sender
  • Be cautious of unexpected attachments
  • Never reply with your details
  • Check any changes in bank details with the supplier – one quick call could save you thousands.
  • Backup all your information using the 3-2-1 rule:

3 backup copies – 2 different media types (usb and hard drive) – 1 backup always offsite


It’s no surprise the data indicates a huge spike in online shopping. This creates many opportunities for scammers. A newer version of online shopping scams involves the use of social media platforms to set up fake online stores. They open the store for a short time, often selling fake branded clothing or jewellery. After making a number of sales, the stores disappear. To keep yourself safe (as possible):

  • If the price is too good to be true, it probably is
  • Always check reviews
  • Pay using a third party like PayPal that gives you extra protection rather then entering your credit card
  • Ensure that the website has an encrypted connection by making sure the domain is https://, not http:// – that extra little ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’
Identity Theft Online

The number of accounts and platforms the average person has online at the moment is staggering, and each of these can provide a window into your personal accounts. Ensuring that you use strong passwords, regularly updated and have secure connections is vital to protect your identity and details online.

Password managers such as BitWarden Lastpass and 1password not only generate incredibly strong passwords for all your platforms, they also store them so you don’t need to worry about remembering them (or remembering where you wrote them down!)

The fun tell-me-about-yourself quizzes on Facebook are data miners for scammers. There’s a reason the questions often align with banking security type questions. Guard details like the street you grew up on and your mothers maiden name as you would your bank details. don’t share it like it’s your fun stripper name!

Review your Facebook security settings, be sure that only your friends can see what you’re sharing and remove any About You information you wouldn’t want a stranger having. Grab a cup of tea, login to Facebook (just joking, I know it’s already open 🙂 and go through all your privacy & security settings. It’s worth it. 

Be safe out there on the inter-web everyone! Let us know if you have any other tips or stories about these… uh.. stinkers.