A guide to safeguarding against cyber scams

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Jeremy Boctor, business services trainer at Macquarie Community College,

In today’s digital age where almost everyone has a phone or computer, we find ourselves in a transformed world. From social networking and online shopping to remote work and digital entertainment, the virtual realm offers countless opportunities and conveniences. However, this brave new world also presents a host of risks that can compromise our personal information, financial security and even our emotional well-being.

In 2021, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported that people aged 65 and over filed the most complaints to Scamwatch, tallying up an alarming 46,286 reports. Sadly, this age group also reported the highest losses from scams that year, amounting to a staggering $82 million. This data underscores a troubling trend that sees an increase in thefts from online scams as we age.

In response to these sobering statistics, I would like to empower everyone with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves with 10 important tips to stay safe online.

  1. Never click on links in unexpected emails or texts. Instead, report and delete it, and block the sender.
  2. Be suspicious of strangers wanting to use encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, Discord or Telegram.
  3. To create a strong password, use a combination of at least eight random lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters.
  4. Some signs of a scam include poor grammar, spelling errors, requests to call a mobile phone number or requests to provide your login details in an unusual way.
  5. Do not share your password with others or store them in a note on your computer or mobile device. Use a trusted password manager instead.
  6. Install anti-virus software on your device and keep it up to date.
  7. Your bank will never contact you by text, phone or email to ask you to confirm your account or log in details. Report this activity direct to your financial institution.
  8. Check to familiarise yourself with common scams.
  9. Only enter your credit card, debit card or banking details into a trusted website that has a padlock and https:// in the address bar.
  10. If you are offered a large sum of money and it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Do not respond.

To bolster your defences against online scams, you could also consider joining a workshop like Macquarie Community College’s Tech Savvy Seniors program on Cyber Safety. These workshops equip you with the vital knowledge to protect yourself against cybercrime and keep your digital life secure.




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