Well, if that number makes you weak at the knees, just know that this is how much scammers got out of Australians last year.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) 10th annual Targeting scams report highlights that scams are increasingly harming the Australian community, and it’s only getting worse. In fact, in 2018 alone, there were over 378,000 scam reports, causing a 44 per cent increase in the losses reported, compared to 2017.
What’s more concerning is that scammers are becoming more sophisticated with their tactics, often posing as official accounts like banks, the taxation office, popular retailers, and even as family, friends or work colleagues. This type of scam is called phishing and uses plausible deception, often conducted by organised cyber criminals who go to great lengths to seem genuine and are extremely persuasive.
A recent example of this is the myGov tax scam, with the ATO receiving 6,444 reports of tax-time scams impersonating the agency within the month of June alone. These scam messages often include links that direct you to fake websites or login pages, where you enter your login details and fill out your personal details to claim a “refund”. Scammers can then use this information to commit credit card or tax fraud and identity theft.
As we are in the midst of Scam Awareness Week, here are some tips so you know how to stay better protected and out of the scammers’ crosshairs:
One of the simplest and most effective methods of staying protected is using better passwords.
You should always use a unique password for each of your digital accounts. Include a mix of characters (uppercase, lowercase, symbols and numbers), avoid words straight out of the dictionary, and make your password as long as possible — ideally no shorter than 14 characters. I generally recommend that people use complex phrases for their passwords.
The longer the password is, the harder it becomes to crack or brute-force attack, which simply means it takes longer for a hacker’s computer to correctly guess it. Memorising complex, unique passwords for every online account is nearly impossible and can result in users cutting corners at the expense of their own security. For example, our LastPass research shows that people re-use their personal credentials across their home and work environments — which can then open up their workplace to password spraying attacks and a whole lot of risk.
Thankfully, there’s technology available that can make managing your passwords easier and more secure. By using a password manager, remembering more than one password can be a thing of the past. All the work is done for you, and it’s the easiest way to ensure your accounts are secure and protected.
Multi-factor authentication is also a great way of adding an extra layer of security to your accounts, as an additional piece of information will be required (such as a one-time code or fingerprint) before access is granted. This ensures an attacker won’t be able to gain entry into an account even if they do obtain the password.
Lindsay Brown, vice-president of APAC and Japan, LogMeIn