01.Don't get scammed by online fraudsters
National Consumer Fraud Week, running this week from June 16-22, is taking aim at scammers targeting lonely hearts, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a member of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce, telling consumers to think twice before transferring money to someone they haven't met face-to-face.
The 2014 Fraud Week campaign, “Know who you’re dealing with”, sends this message to consumers: “Think twice before transferring money – if you meet someone online and they ask for money, big or small, you are more than likely dealing with a scammer.”
ACCC reports scams are up
The ACCC has launched its annual report of scam activity for 2013, revealing that consumers and small business had reported almost 92,000 scams in 2013, an increase of 10% on the previous year. But in (somewhat) good news, financial losses from the scams were slightly down, a total of just under $90m.
Dating and romance scams targeting those searching for love online are of high concern, making up just three per cent of reports, but 28% of money lost. And phishing and identity theft reports have skyrocketed 73% over the year, now the second most reported scam.
Top 10 scams for 2013
The ten scams most reported to the ACCC in 2013 were a mixed bunch:
- Advanced fee/up-front payment
- Phishing and identity theft
- Computer hacking
- Lottery and sweepstakes
- Online shopping
- Unexpected prizes
- False billing
- Job and employment
- Dating and romance
- Mobile phone
Have you been hacked?
In other cybercrime news, the Hasso Plattner Institute for IT Systems Engineering (HPI) at the University of Potsdam in Germany has developed the HPI Identity Leak Checker, a new system that detects whether your online accounts have been hacked or your identity stolen.
According to HPI, many identity thieves and hackers make stolen personal information public on various online databases, where it serves as the starting point for other illegal activities.The HPI Checker searches these databases for your e-mail address, along with other personal data such as your phone number, date of birth or address, and informs you whether your information has been compromised.
Top 5 signs you’re dealing with a scammer on an online dating site
- You’ve never met or seen them: scammers will say anything to avoid a face-to-face meeting.
- They’re not who they appear to be: scammers steal photos and profiles from real people to create an appealing facade. Run a Google image search on photos and search words in their description to check if they’re the real deal.
- They ask to chat with you privately: scammers will try and move the conversation away from the scrutiny of community platforms to a one-on-one interaction such as email or phone.
- You don’t know a lot about them: scammers are keen to get to know you as much as possible, but are less forthcoming about themselves.
- They ask you for money: once the connection’s been made - be it as a friend, admirer or business partner - scammers will ask you to transfer money. Don’t fall for a tall tale, no matter how plausible it sounds.