What online scammers don’t want you to know
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Guest: Delia Rickard
Online scammers steal billions of dollars from Australians every year. And even as we become wise to their tricks, cyber criminals are stepping it up with ever more sophisticated schemes that are getting harder to spot. Host Val Quinn talks to Delia Rickard, the Deputy Chair of the ACCC, about the types of scams targeting your money and personal information, ways to avoid them, and what to do if you’ve been scammed.
- If you suspect you’ve been caught up in a scam, you can report it to ScamWatch: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
- Be Connected provides a comprehensive course to help you find help and support if you’ve been scammed: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/safety-first/help-and-support
- If you’re concerned that your identity might have been stolen, contact ID Care: https://www.idcare.org/
- Delia reminds us that it’s a good idea to use your free credit reference check to see if criminals might have used your identity: https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/credit-reporting/access-your-credit-report
- If you feel you need additional support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au
Definitions from this episode:
- The ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) is helping the telcos disrupt text message and scam callers: https://www.acma.gov.au
- Malware scams work by installing software on your computer that allows scammers to access your files or watch what you are doing on your computer. Scammers use this information to steal your personal details and commit fraudulent activities. Learn more: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/threats-extortion/malware-ransomware
- Scamwatch publish a free PDF to help individuals and businesses learn about scams: https://www.accc.gov.au/publications/the-little-black-book-of-scams
- Cryptocurrency (Crypto) is any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions. Delia warns about online crypto scams and about the risks of paying online using cryptocurrency.
- Sign-up and build your digital skills for free at BeConnected: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au
- Learn how to avoid scams and tricks: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/safety-first/avoiding-scams-and-tricks
- Learn how to stay safe on social media: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/social-media-apps/introduction-to-social-media/key-safety-tips-for-using-social-media
- Learn more about WhatsApp: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/connecting-to-others/how-to-use-whatsapp
- Learn about password safety in our managing passwords course: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/advanced-online-security/managing-passwords
- Learn all about password managers and how they help to protect your personal information: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/advanced-online-security/managing-passwords/what-is-a-password-manager
- Learn about safely buying and selling online: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/introduction-to-buying-and-selling-online
- Learn about apps: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/essentials/all-about-apps
- Learn more about antivirus software and protecting your privacy online in our advanced online security course: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/topic-library/advanced-online-security/protecting-your-privacy-online
- Listen to more podcast episodes: https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/podcast
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- Valens Quinn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valensq/
- Valens Quinn on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valens-quinn-745b284/
- Delia Rickard: https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/australian-competition-consumer-commission/accc-chair-commissioners
- Delia Rickard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/delia-rickard-0929b624/?originalSubdomain=au
Be Connected is an Australian Government Initiative developed by the Department of Social Services, the eSafety Commissioner and Good Things Foundation Australia. Be Connected builds the digital skills, confidence, and online safety of all Australians with engaging online learning resources, and a network of over 3,500 community organisations to support them to thrive in a digital world.
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[Valens] Well, hello and welcome to the Be Connected podcast. I'm Val Quinn and I'm a technology commentator, broadcaster, and publisher, and the host of the Be Connected podcast. So scams in one form or another are probably as old as civilization itself. Today's scammers are online and can access our personal information via our devices. So they're sending us text messages and emails, making phone calls, and even using social media and fake websites to try and cheat us out of our money and steal our personal details. So how can we avoid falling for their tricks? Well, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or ACCC, is the peak consumer protection body in Australia, and its ScamWatch site is the go-to for information about scams. I know I go there all the time and the information is such, such important information to stay abreast of. So joining us today to discuss the latest scams and how to recognise them and more, is the Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Delia Rickard. Delia, it's such an honour to have you here today and thank you so much for joining us.
[Delia] Hi, Val, it's lovely to be here and you're right, scams are as old as time. These days with technology, they're able to spread their scams right around the world in huge, huge numbers. So it's at a scale we've never seen before.
[Valens] Well, you're absolutely right. It's almost like technology just amplifies the problem because it just means it can just reach so many more people and even faster than ever before, too. Okay, so let's start this, just how big of a problem are online scams?
[Delia] It is a ginormous problem, Val. And one that despite huge law enforcement and other efforts, disruption efforts, which have been successful in some ways, is only getting bigger. So if I take, I'll start with 2021, and I have to give a bit of context about this - I'm sorry to make it complicated. We know from all the surveys we do that whilst ScamWatch is the main website, government website that people report to, we only get about 12% of reports. So when I give you stats, just remember that that's only 12%, unless I tell you otherwise. We also know that one third of people don't tell anyone they've been scammed. So last year, we're seeing 323 million reported as lost to ScamWatch. That's 12%.
[Delia] And that figure was up 84% on the year before. This year so far, if I just take, not even quite to the end of the first four months of this year, we have had 195 million reported, which is up 163% on the same time last year. So it is of a scale that is completely unprecedented. A lot is happening to disrupt scams. So for instance, if I look at what's happened in the telco space, under the leadership of the ACMA and we've worked with them and the telcos have all worked with them. They've done this phenomenal job in stopping scam phone calls coming to the country. Since late 2020, they've stopped 549 million calls. Yet we are still seeing this number, and we're seeing instead scammers moving to mobile apps and things like that. So it's a war. And we get ahead, we get behind, and we just cannot give up.
[Valens] Well, I am just staggered by those numbers. I mean, it is, it's truly an epidemic. I mean, it's unbelievable how it's just increasing year on year as well.
[Delia] I've convinced that for last year, when we do the final number and factor in the numbers who don't report, we will be about 2 billion dollars lost to Australians to scams in 2021.
[Valens] Wow, it is truly like it's such an important topic to be discussing, and I'm glad we have the chance to speak to you about this. So let's dive into some of the most common scams right now. So what are we seeing out there?
[Delia] So the most reported scams we have these days, the number one is phishing. Phishing scams, which are spelled P-H, not F-I. Phishing are scams that are designed to collect your personal information. That, and we'll talk about them a lot during this show I'm sure, because almost every scam we see these days is after two things, not just your money, they always also want your personal information that they're phishing for it if you like. And there's lots of ways they do this. If I think of a topical one, that's really just started springing up in the last month or so, scammers pretending, they're impersonating radio personalities, they're pitching stuff off their own site. So it all looks legitimate. They might be running a contest. They might say, you need a credit card just to pay for your prize coming to you. And they get collecting people's personal information. The next most popular scam, in terms of numbers, is online shopping scams. And I think due to the pandemic and COVID, we've all been shopping online a lot more. And whilst lots of sites are legitimate and the goods do turn up, sometimes a bit late these days, cause of supply chain issues, some are outright frauds. You get nothing or you get some very cheap imitation. False billing is the third. And there's a whole range of false billing scams. They might be pretending to be your utility and say, you owe this money. They might call from, tend to be the tax office and call and say, you owe money. You'll get arrested if you don't pay it right now. What we've seen a lot during COVID, is scammers pretending to be the government and wanting to check on various things and people. You know, people trust the government and particularly migrants we find. If someone says they're the government, their inclination is to answer all the questions and to do the right thing. And the next one I wanna mention is remote access. And this is one that particularly impacts older Australians. And the most common form we see, there's a number of different takes on this, is they're pretending to be either a computer company or a telco or these days the NBN. They get in contact with you, and this has been very successful during the roll out of the NBN, and tell you that there's a problem with your computer, problem with your broadband, problem with your connections. You need to give them remote access, so that they can help you fix it. They then find a reason to get you to open your banking. While this is all going on, they then syphon all the money out of your bank account and it causes a huge amount of damage and loss. They keep people on the phones for sometimes hours at an end and leads to truly terrible results. And one of the core lessons I hope people go away from, from today's podcast is you can never really know who you're dealing with online, whether by online, I mean the phone, SMS, social media, the internet. So never, ever give somebody who contacts you out of the blue remote access to your computer. Just full stop. Never no matter what the story.
[Valens] Those are truly terrifying. And yeah, I mean, I've seen some of these in action and it really, the real sign there is when they say, okay, to fix your computer, we're gonna need to install some software onto your computer. And that allows people to, on the other end, to take control. And then really, it's almost like they're driving your computer and they can all open up a folder where you might have some personal information. They can watch you enter your banking details to and loading up your bank account. So yeah, you are handing over the keys effectively to your computer and your privacy with these scams. So yeah, people have to be so wary of anyone calling you up and then asking you to install something for them to allow them control. Oh, it just makes me shiver thinking about it, and it is incredible how really smart, like these scammers are, like the they'll wait for a topical event, for example, you know, the floods. Then there's gonna be scammers calling up for flood donations or, you know, with COVID like you said, online shopping, tax time, end of financial year. They just kind of look for those, these big events and really take advantage of them. Well, listen, there's lots more to learn about this. And if you wanna learn about how to avoid scams and tricks plus ways to help stay safe on social media, we've got a great Be Connected course. So just check out the show notes for the links to that too. But let's go back to some more practical stuff. What do you think we should be looking out for and, you know, Delia, can you teach us how to recognise a scam when we receive one?
[Delia] Look, scams can be really hard to recognise because these days scammers can do perfect impersonations of logos. They can replicate anything. So we used to say, look out for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes. Yes, we still see them from time to time, but more often than not, all of that is perfect. There are certain scams where you can watch out for inconsistencies in their story. But my number one warning to people about scams is if anyone is contacting you out of the blue via any remote means - phone, social media, computer, et cetera - you cannot really know who you're dealing with. So if they start asking for personal information, which is things like your birthday, your address, all those things, or asking for money, do not give them that. That is just the number one tip for how to avoid being scammed. We've just talked about the most common scams, but the scams which are doing the most damage at the moment, number one by a long way is investment scams. I think so far in the first, less than four months of this year, the ACCC alone has seen over 151 million loss to investment scams. And the other, which is the scam that concerns me more than any is the dating and romance scams. And if you meet someone and it, we're not necessarily talking about a dating site as often as not, these are mobile apps, like the various Scrabble apps you see out there. You're playing along. Someone starts chatting to you there. They move you off to WhatsApp, you continue conversation. And then they go on to try and get your money. So if somebody quickly moves you off the site where you met, if they're very quick to profess their love, and if they then find a reason to either ask you for money, which is the traditional thing, or these days, what they're doing, I think they realise that a lot of people have heard about romance scam, so are a little wary of giving other money. So instead they pretend they've got these fabulous investments, usually in crypto and they show you how they do it. And they show you all the charts with their money going up. And then they say, you know, why don't you give it a try? And the person will go to the platform they're talking about. They might invest just a little bit first, often they'll check to see if it's really legit and see if they can take something out. They can. So then they keep investing more and more. And that's another way in which they're getting their money. So another clue is anyone you meet online, who's offering you financial advice, I would be assuming they were a scammer. And I would certainly, certainly not be following their financial advice, no matter how legit they sound.
[Valens] Yeah, I think that's really good advice. You know, the internet is rife with financial advice and you're right, they can paint a picture of success. And I was really, you know, really surprised too, that they even kind of help you dip your toe in the water and see that you can still take your money out. And then that will kind of make you feel more safe. So it really shows that these are long term scams too. Like they're not just about the quick take your money and run. They invest time and effort into you.
[Delia] Some of those high value ones of scammers, they will invest months, even years into people. So they really lure you into a sense of confidence, safety, security, but eventually they will be after your money, as well as your personal information.
[Valens] Well, worst of all, they pull at your heartstrings too, in these romance scams to really, you know, to take advantage of, you know, those of us who are vulnerable or lonely as well. So yeah, I guess nothing is sacred in this space and they'll do what they need to. And watch out for those too-good-to-be-trues as well, like you were saying. Yeah, pretty, pretty easy to get sucked in there. So, okay. Well, let's just, let's focus on say emails and messages. And I guess that, which is one way that people try to contact you. What would you say we should be looking out for there that would look suspicious?
[Delia] Well, the obvious ones, and these are sort of the first of the online scams we saw in Australia, are the phishing emails that say, they're coming from your bank. Now, if it's not your bank saying, there's been a security breach, you know, it's a scam, full stop. But it's worth knowing that no Australian bank will ever ask you to give them the password. If there's a problem, they'll always tell you to go to their site and log in there. They will not send you links to their site.
[Valens] I mean, I've certainly seen the old email from my bank saying, oh, we need you to follow this link and enter my password and account again, because it needs to be validated. And sometimes I even get these emails from banks that I'm not a member of. So yeah, you just have to be aware of keeping your eyes out for anything.
[Delia] That's an important thing to remember because if one of these turns up and it is from your bank, you can think, oh, you know, some security events, and just quickly go into panic mode and click links. Just don't do that. We see an awful lot of emails these days pretending to be major retailers and offering prizes and just, you know, they say, fill in this survey and we will send you a $50 gift card for instance. You click on the link, and in fact, what they're doing is always trying to get your personal information and collecting that. And sometimes by clicking, you could be downloading malware.
[Valens] So Delia, what type of investment scams are we seeing out there at the moment?
[Delia] We're seeing really two very different types of investment scams at the moment. One is getting people to invest in cryptocurrency. People, you know, felt they'd missed out on the first tech bubble and are keen on getting in on the next hot thing. The other one is one that is particularly impacting older Australians. And this is where it looks like you are investing in an ASX top 100 firm, could be Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, you know, a really well known, trusted company. And what the scammers are doing, we call them imposter bonds, is they're taking the exact replica of the prospectus for an ASX top 100 company. And all they are doing is changing the contact details. Otherwise it looks completely and utterly legitimate. And we are seeing particularly retirees, who are finding in this low interest rate environment that their savings that they plan their retirements around are not going as far. We're seeing people looking not for, you know, a ridiculously fabulously high return, but just something that's a bit better, but still really safe. And you, so they're looking to invest in brands they've known all their life. They think they're doing it. It looks just like the real thing. And in fact, they are sending all their retirement savings straight into hands of scammers. A third one is people who've been, who are interested in investing. So what happens is a lot of people go cruising the web, trying to find information about good investments. There's usually places on these sites where you can enter your interest and then they will get back in contact with you. And when that happens, you'll usually find that you're talking to, if it is a scam, you're usually trying to talk to someone with a very refined English accent. And they'll have a hierarchy that they can pass you up. And they have all the jargon and it sounds really legitimate. But so, so often it turns out to be a scam. And you are, as I said before, do not take investment advice of someone you meet on the internet. So you really, really need to be careful again, do the Google search, go to the organisation directly. If you're investing, work through a financial, a licensed financial advisor, and check the asset website to make sure they are licensed and it's them. You have to keep your guard up, unfortunately.
[Valens] Wow. So they're basically taking legitimate or legitimate-looking investments and just basically just diverting your money into their account.
[Valens] Instead of into the legitimate investment. Well, well, wow, well, good. Well, thanks for raising that to our attention, cause that's is something to watch out for. So how can we help avoid receiving scam messages in the first place?
[Delia] I think we really need to be careful about what information about ourselves we put out there into the world. And if you're on social media, lock down your privacy settings, so only your friends and family can see. There's a lot of people who don't do this, they put their birth date on there. They might put their address on there. And every bit of information somebody gets about you helps them to either pretend to be you and open accounts in your name and commit fraud, or to contact you and sound like they are legitimately, let's say they pretending to be a part of the government because they know so much about you. You think, oh, well they must be legit. So be really careful about the information that you do put out there. And be really careful of some of those quizzes, for instance, that seem innocuous on Facebook, but include things like the name of your first cat, et cetera. Because in amongst a lot of innocent questions, they often put the questions that banks will use. For instance, if you forget your PIN number or code and you get in contact, they have a few questions. a lot of sites that things like your mother's maiden name, the hospital you were born, first school, first pet, et cetera. And those are questions that they put in there. So I, for one don't do any of those online quizzes. Some of them look very tempting and I just say, no, no, you cannot tell which is which.
[Valens] Wow, that is so clever. I never would've thought of that. And that just goes to show you anything, I guess, where you're entering personal information online, you should be wary of.
[Valens] Whether it's a game, a quiz using apps where it asks you details about yourself. God it's so, so clever. So what about things like say, maybe the Do Not Call register, or would that type of thing help as well by getting on that?
[Delia] The Do Not Call register helps you avoid direct marketing. It does nothing for scammers cause scammers have no care in the world about abiding by the law.
[Valens] I see. Okay. So that one's just about people contacting you for marketing. How about things like WhatsApp or SMS messages? So for those that don't know WhatsApp, and there are other apps as well, like Signal, these are messaging apps that sort of function the same way as sending text messages, but you need to download the apps and then invite people to communicate with you. But you can also be invited by others to communicate and these could be scammers. So I guess they're just another way of sending messages. I know that these are encrypted and people tend to feel safe on them. Does that mean they're okay if they use those platforms?
[Delia] Look I'll deal with them separately. So let's start with SMS. Now there's been a lot of work being done with the telcos to get them to do more to disrupt scam SMSs. I've mentioned earlier that, you know, over half a billion worth of phone calls that have been stopped by the telcos. So what we're seeing more and more is scammers turning to encrypted apps like WhatsApp, which is gonna be much more difficult to disrupt. And if somebody is trying to move your communications to WhatsApp, I would just be automatically suspicious because they are trying to avoid detection.
[Valens] Mm, okay. Yeah, good point on that. And I guess what puts people into a false sense of security is when they hear that encryption is being used, all that really means is that the message can't be intercepted by a third party when it's being sent from A to B. But that doesn't mean that the content of the message to begin with isn't a scam or dangerous anyway. So it, even though it's encrypted, it's really not gonna help you in any way.
[Delia] That's exactly right, Val.
[Valens] Okay, so Delia, if we receive something that does look suspicious, say a text message or an email, what should we be doing with it?
[Delia] I'm gonna start with what we shouldn't be doing. So if they have links in them, do not click on the link. I cannot say it enough times, do not click on the links because inevitably, scam, SMSs, or emails with links are about downloading malware onto your device, which enables the scammer to maybe see what password you're using for your banking, all of those things. So whatever you do, don't click on links. If I think of things like parcel scams, you know, most of us are expecting parcels a lot more regularly than we ever did in the past. And that's one of the reasons why scammers are so fond of trying to distribute their malware during, by a parcel delivery text saying, you know, there's been an issue, click here to get the details, et cetera. So I just don't click on any links these days, unless, you know, it's my mum saying, look, I'm just sending you this recipe now, or this link and then I'll click on it. And one of the good tips to remember is if you're not sure if something's legitimate or not, don't use the contact details that the person, body, who sent it to you has provided. Go and do a Google search or find a phone book to find a phone number or contact details, and check with them about whether or not something's legitimate. Because it could be an absolute nightmare if you do download malware onto your phone or to your computer.
[Valens] Right, okay. Well, if you're not sure you're being contacted by a legit organisation, just make sure you contact them, you know, go and get their correct contact details by either Googling it, looking in the phone book, whatever, and contact them directly. Get the person's name that you were speaking to and ask for them directly, because that's the only way you can be really sure that you're really speaking to the right people or the right organisation. Another thing too is, yeah, we need to be really mindful of not opening attachments that are sent in these emails sometimes as well, because you never know what they might have inside them. And even if you do click on a link in say, a scammer's text message, what it'll generally do is it'll take you to a place. And then from, it might take you to a webpage. And then from there it might ask you for your personal information, is that right? That's sort of, they kind of ask you stuff from that point.
[Delia] That's exactly right. They've asked you personal information and they may find a reason to get your credit card, or, I mean, the holy grail of them is always to get your banking PIN and banking access data. So sadly, we all have to learn to become more sceptical in our online interactions.
[Valens] So who are these people that are scamming us? I mean, are they in Australia or are they in different countries around the world?
[Delia] The vast majority of scammers who focus on Australia are overseas. It is big business. It is organised crime, and it is highly structured. We do have some of our own homegrown scammers. And pleasingly, the police have been much more involved in the scams area in recent times. So I know a number of the puppy scammers have been from Australia and have been caught. Likewise, we've had some domestic romance scammers. So some are here, but by a long, long way, the majority are based overseas. And whilst the police are taking action against scammers known about here, this is such big business. There are so many scammers out there. You could put, you know, a team of resources on it to just catch one person and it could take a year or two. So our focus has been on working with the banks. We share known scam bank account details with banks, so that they can make sure money doesn't go to them. We share known scam call numbers with the telcos, so they can block them. So we have been focusing on disruption. However, to the extent we do have local scammers and they do exist. Law enforcement is looking into them.
[Valens] I see. And what was the puppy scammers? Can you just let me know a bit about that?
[Delia] Puppy scams have been around forever, but they absolutely took off during COVID. And I think it's cause A, a lot of people were lonely during lockdown or people that always thought I'd like to have a puppy, but you know, won't be around to train, et cetera, so it's the perfect time. So scammers started taking all of these very cute puppy photos off the internet, making fake websites about them, putting ads in various marketplaces, advertising very cute puppies for sale at slightly better prices than normal, because the price of dogs quadrupled during COVID. If you said yes, and you kind of, you can't help, but instantly start to bond with that pup, and they have all the excuses in the world with COVID for why you can't pick them up in person. And if you said yes and pay it, then they'd have a reason to ask for more money for a special COVID crate, and then there'd be an insurance charge, and they would just keep pumping you of money until you ran out or until you realised it was a scam. But the ACCC alone I think had over 4 million, last year reported to us as lost to puppy scam. And again, remember we're at most 12% of the complaints.
[Valens] Wow, 4 million. Oh, that's just, again, I just can't believe how they take advantage of our, you know, our hearts and, you know, and then take our money, no morals at all.
[Delia] They have no morals. Absolutely no morals.
[Valens] Oh, let that be a reminder to everybody out there, you know, just, this is the level of scamming that, you know, you can expect. So be very mindful. Yeah. Well, so say we do take the bait and we accidentally find ourselves as a victim of a scam. What now? What do we do next?
[Delia] Don't continue to engage with the scammer. The very first thing to do is to let your bank know, ASAP. Hopefully they can stop anymore losses. There's a fantastic organisation that's a government-funded organisation, called ID Care. I think the website's idcare.org. I can't tell you what a great job they do in helping people unravel identity theft, and to sort of reclaim their own identity, and also just talk to people and help calm them, and it's almost like counselling service as well. So they are wonderful to contact after you've contacted your bank. And we always ask that people contact us at scamwatch.gov.au and tell us what they've seen, because it's that way that we know what scams are out there, the latest forms they take, and we can go out and warn others about it. So it's a really good civil service you're doing in preventing others from getting scammed by providing us with that information.
[Valens] Right, okay. So what is identity theft and how are scammers using that to take money from us?
[Delia] Identity theft is when somebody gets enough information about you to pretend to be you. They may wanna pretend to be you and open up utility accounts, phone accounts, energy accounts, bank accounts in your name. And that can leave a person with huge debt. So it's always good to use your free credit reference check each year to make sure that that isn't happening to you. The other reason why they like to collect your personal information is so they can better scam you, so that when they contact you, they have enough details about you to sound like they legitimately are from the tax agency or from the health department or whoever they're in fact pretending to be. And I should say that scammers can also go to the dark net, and even to legitimate places to buy their... there's a whole range of lists you can buy, which has information about people and they're tech savvy enough these days to be able to bring together different parcels of information about you to get a bigger and bigger picture about you.
[Valens] Hmm, yeah. That's very true. And you mentioned that the dark net or the dark web. It's amazing what's for sale on there. Scammers can, you know, steal databases from websites, of people's usernames and logins, credit card information, and then they can just shop it around to others out there that will then exploit it. One of the good things that's happened from a technology point of view is if you buy certain internet security software suites, some of them now actually search the dark web for information like your passport details or credit card details. So they'll actually notify you if they find any of this on the dark web. So something like an internet security suite can now do that.
[Valens] And yeah, another good tip is just to, if you have given away say a password, you might wanna log into all of your other accounts, especially financial ones, and change the passwords right away, just in case it's the same password, because yeah, scammers will, once they learn a bit about you, they might see whether you've got a PayPal account and try to log in with the password that you gave them for something else. So yeah, I guess you gotta lock them down pretty quickly.
[Delia] You do. And unfortunately you don't, you just can't have the same passwords for each account. You really should have different passwords for different accounts.
[Valens] Absolutely. It really is a discipline to do, but what I use myself and find that helps a lot is I use a password manager and there are a lot of different ones out there. And you can even Google password manager in your web browser, and it'll give you a whole bunch of choices there. So that's something else that can remember those different passwords for you. And, you know, we do have lots more information about what to do if you are a victim to a scam. So check out the Help and Support course on Be Connected as well. And we'll put those links into the show notes too. So if I do transfer my money to a scammer, I mean, what are my rights in getting it back? I mean, if they do get caught, can I actually get my money back again?
[Delia] It's very rare to get your money back where you've lost it to a scammer. There are some limited occasions where you may be able to. So for instance, ASIC, the security regulator, keeps a list of companies not to deal with. If a bank has sent, so banks and others are on notice about this list. If a bank has sent money to one of these companies, as part of an investment scam, then you should get your money back. And AFCA, which includes the banking ombudsman these days, will take into account whether or not there was a red flag that the bank should have been aware of and take a greater care or not sent the money. So it happens sometimes that you can get money back, but it is exception rather than the rule. What happens when a scammer takes money, it usually goes to an account, often run by a money mill and then bounces onto four or five accounts very quickly. So it gets hard to trace, but banks will try and do some tracing. So the quicker you can get to the bank, the greater the chance that you can get some money back.
[Valens] I see. So once they get your money, that's very often that they'll move it around or it'll go somewhere else very quickly. So you'll lose your chance fast.
[Delia] And if you pay by cryptocurrency, you've got pretty much zero chance of getting your money back. But it's also another tip off that something might be a scam. So if somebody's asking you to pay with gift cards, with cryptocurrency, any really unusual form of payment, that is a sign that something's a scam. So just get right out of there.
[Valens] Right, so do you think that online scams will become worse or will they diminish as technology becomes smarter at recognising them and people are wary to the tricks?
[Delia] I hope it doesn't become worse. We're certainly seeing huge efforts here and overseas to stop them. The banks are getting much better at using AI and other tools to identify when someone may be sending money to a scammer and stopping it. But they're certainly not catching all of them just yet. We've talked about the work the telcos are doing. Social media do a lot, but they need to do a heck of a lot more to be effective because as you may have got the impression, whilst we've been talking, every time you find a fix for one approach, they move to a different one. So it used to be that Western Union was their favourite way of getting money. When Western Union tidy up their act, the scammer walked across the street to the bank. Now they're moving onto cryptocurrency cause banks are getting better. So it is an ongoing war. I can't think of a better way to describe it, war. But there are more resources being put into this. There are more smart brains going into it than I have ever seen in the past. So, you know, I have everything crossed. We make considerable progress, but in the meantime, sadly, we just do need to be cautious.
[Valens] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we're not saying that the internet is a place that you need to fear and you shouldn't go out there and enjoy all the amazing things that has to offer. It's just that you need to go in there with a cautious mindset, and to be wary of when you are requested for information, and make sure that those are legitimate sources. And to, you know, to minimise what you share out there as much as you can. Well, this is been a really, really valuable chat Delia. I think it's so important for Australians to know about the dangers that are out there and how to mitigate them. And yeah, I think it's something that we need to talk more about, but we really appreciate you joining us today. And yeah, thanks so much for sharing all of your valuable tips.
[Delia] It's been absolute pleasure, Val, and I hope people find this helpful.
[Valens] Great. And thanks for joining me as well out there for this episode of the Be Connected podcast. There's some really great information in there about how to protect yourself. But again, don't be afraid. The internet is a great place to just be mindful when you're out there surfing the web. And if you liked what you've heard, please subscribe to us to receive all the latest episodes. You know, there's some really, really great ones to hear, and leave a review to help others find us if you're listening on a podcast platform. And remember to visit the show notes for information on anything we've covered here today. And there's some really good stuff in there, and that includes links and other useful information. And lastly, to discover other great topics, go to beconnected.esafety.gov.au, that's beconnected.esafety.gov.au. [Announcer] Be Connected is an Australian government initiative developed by the Department of Social Services, the ESafety Commissioner and Good Things Foundation Australia. Be Connected, builds the digital skills, confidence, and online safety of all Australians with engaging online learning resources and a network of over 3,500 community organisations to support them to thrive in a digital world.