It’s National Privacy Awareness Week from 4–8 May. So it’s timely to remind ourselves that scammers and cyber criminals are still out-and-about while we’re all working or schooling from home.
Since 10 March, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has received almost 100 reports of Australians losing money or personal information due to COVID-19 themed cybercrime. The Centre has also disrupted more than 150 malicious websites – all designed to exploit people during the pandemic.
While we’re isolated, many of us are using online services more than ever. So we need to be vigilant about protecting our privacy and being aware of how scammers might contact us. It could be as basic as coming to the front door. Or making contact through social media, email or text message.
Websites might look like the real deal – but if the deal is too good to be true, question it. Be wary of sellers asking for unusual payment methods or upfront payment. Payment by Bitcoin should sound a warning bell.
Here are the top tips from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on how to protect your privacy and safeguard against scams.
- Read privacy policies so you understand how an organisation will handle your personal information.
- Always ask why, how and who? This helps you understand how your personal information may be used and whether it may be given to someone else.
- Protect yourself online by avoiding unsecure wi-fi networks for important transactions (like banking) and use different (and strong) passwords for different accounts.
- Be mobile safe – use a PIN to lock your phone and only download apps from a reputable source.
- Use security software – this includes anti-spyware, anti-virus scanners and firewall software.
- Be careful what you share on social media. The privacy settings you choose can make the difference between the world knowing where you live and when your birthday is, or just your friends.
- Don’t leave personal information lying around. Documents carelessly discarded can lead to identity theft – so crush, kill, destroy anything with personal, banking or social security details that could reveal your identity.
- Stay vigilant – scammers are tricky and they adapt their schemes to exploit people at vulnerable times. If you’re not expecting a request to update information; to get a refund; or win a prize, then it’s probably not legitimate.