Know your spam from a scam
Spam and phishing scams are on the rise, but we can all play a part in staying safe online. Every day, you're likely to receive Spam - electronic junk mail. These are emails or SMS messages offering goods or services. They may be annoying, but they're not always a scam.
Emails or text messages advertising fake products, cheap products, offers of prizes or get rich quick schemes or impersonating legitimate organisations are scam messages. They are usually sent to a large number of people at once, and their objective is to get you to disclose information that can be used to take your money or steal your identity.
A common scam in Australia involves demanding gift card payments for non-existent bills, such as tax ‘owed’ to the ATO. In 2018, Australians lost $3.1million just by making payments to scammers with iTunes cards.2
What is phishing?
Phishing (pronounced ‘fishing’) is a scam designed to trick you into giving out your personal information, such as address, bank account and credit card numbers and passwords.
Usually these messages pretend to be from a legitimate business, such as a bank or other service provider. They will urge you to click on a link or download an attachment.
The links will take you to fake websites that look very similar to the ones they’re copying, but are designed to get your personal information by encouraging you to complete application forms or surveys.
Attachments in these emails contain viruses or other forms of malicious programs that can infect your computer.
While phishing is usually sent via email, phishing can also occur via SMS (SMishing) or over the phone as part of a more sophisticated scam. SMS scams are on the rise with over 27,000 reported to Scamwatch and other government agencies in 2019.1 No Matter how you received the message, think twice before clicking any links.
How to spot phishing email attacks
There a number of signs that indicate that a message may be a scam. Using the example below, some things to watch out for include: