Scams and phishing are on the rise and we are all living in an interconnected world that requires us to give more and more information. Worse, we often have no say in it nor can we decline to provide information if we need the services on offer.
The recent Optus and Medibank information breaches have exposed details that have left millions of people scared of the consequences. Innocent people that are now scrambling to retract their data from nefarious players that are almost impossible to trace or prosecute.
In real estate agents collect:
- Selling and buyers’ agents require forms of identification needed for contract completion. This includes addresses, dates of birth, identity reference numbers, photos and signatures.
- Property managers need income details, bank details, employment details and length of time at addresses.
- Strata agents may need financial details relating to works being done at a complex.
- Commercial agents need business details.
A lot of this data is then loaded onto larger platforms and the agents also need to give their details to have it all stored – we hope safely. For scammers, these huge data collection vats are very convenient.
Scamming individuals can be hit or miss but scamming huge corporations offers lucrative opportunities. Clearly, the large institutions have deeper pockets to ransom. Worse still, these villains have almost no identification themselves.
It is almost impossible to not hand over details to a business. This interconnectedness is hugely beneficial but clearly, it is also problematic.
A scam is a dishonest scheme; a fraud. Everyone has had a nuisance call or email that appears legitimate but is concerning. We are constantly told to use different passwords on each account we open. The experts also tell us to use very long passwords but that in and of itself is problematic – and scammers know it.
7 ways to spot a scam website
According to Delia Rickard, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) deputy chair and Scamwatch there are seven ways you might be able to recognise – and avoid – a scam website.
- The URL name is unusual.
- The price is too good to be true.
- The email missing information and has spelling errors and poor phrasing.
- The site has damning reviews.
- The site has unusual payment methods.
- The site is missing a padlock and trust seal.
- It is an Australian site with no ABN.
There is another name for companies that scam consumers and that is phishing.
Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. The spelling is a twist on ‘fishing’. Send out the bait, wait for a person to respond and pull them in – disgusting.
The 7 most popular phishing
- The fake invoice scam – sending an invoice that appears you may have overlooked. The victim is the innocent business and its clients.
- Email account upgrade scam – consumers that have subscriptions are at risk here, thinking they need to update or have to reload their details again.
- Advance-fee scam – the scammer will offer you a large sum of money in exchange for your bank details.
- Google Docs scam – offers an extra sinister twist as the sender can often appear to be someone you know. The email encourages you to click on its link in order to view a ‘document’, which then takes you to an almost identical version of Gmail’s login page. Once an account has been selected, you’re then invited to grant access to your Google account, the attacker is in.
- PayPal Scam – this scam tries to enforce panic, often with a “There’s a problem with your account, please click here to fix it” kind of message.
- Message from HR scam – this is an HR email scam containing a malicious attachment or link that, once clicked, will install malicious software onto your computer or device. Scammers attack businesses because of increased access.
- Unusual activity scam – ‘suspicious activity on your account”. An unusual activity scam can come from any app, website, or platform – and is the most problematic.
It appears that Medibank and Optus may be the beginning of a very problematic time for consumers and we all need to be extra diligent without data.