The phishing scam

 

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The Phishing Scam

Woman points and explains something on the computer screen to a curious onlooker

What's coming up

Phishing scams most commonly occur by telephone, but can also happen via email, text messages and on the internet. They are called phishing scams because they're fishing for information on you. (The 'ph' comes from 'phone').

In this activity, we'll go through how phishing scams work and how to identify them.

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How to recognise a phishing scam

Most phishing scams start with an email, text message or phone call that seems to be from a business you trust, such as a bank or your phone company.

It warns that something might happen to your finances or services if you don’t confirm your personal information or account details using your phone, or logging into a website provided by the scammer.

An example of an email that seems to be from your bank saying that your account has been overdrawn and you need to login to your account through the email to make a payment
An email that looks legitimate from an electrical company with the subject of the email as 'Pay your bill now!'

But it looks like the real thing!

A phishing website may look a lot like the real website of your bank, electricity or phone company, but it is actually fake, and so is the phone number.

If you give your details to the website or person on the phone, you're actually giving them to the scammer.

What should you do?

Never provide your personal information or account details, either by email or on the phone, if you are contacted 'out of the blue' by someone claiming to be from a reputable company.

If you're unsure about a telephone message or an email you receive, contact the bank or business yourself to check if the message you received is genuine.

Be sure to use your own contact information for the organisation - don't trust anything in the email or phone call.

A man calls his bank on his mobile to check if he is being scammed or not

What to do with a phishing email

If you suspect you have received a phishing email, there are some simple steps to follow.

1. Never click on a link in a phishing email. All links will either confirm you exist to the scammers, or take you to a fake website where they hope you will impart your private information.

An example of a phishing email that has a text link in the email saying 'Click here'
An example of a phishing email  with the delete button highlighted

2. Always delete the email. Depending on what type of email account you have, there will be an option to 'Delete' or 'Trash' in the menu.

3. Help others know about the scam by reporting it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) ScamWatch website available at www.scamwatch.gov.au.

An example of a website page where you can report a scam online
A shoemaker makes his daily life easier with the help of his tablet

Congratulations!

Well done, you've completed The phishing scam activity.

You've learnt that if somebody contacts you out of the blue and asks you to hand over personal information, you shouldn't trust them - no matter who they say they work for.

Next up, we look at Unexpected money scams and how they try to trick you into paying money.