Scammers, Scammers Everywhere

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Online scams have officially overtaken the humble telephone call as the scammer's contact method of choice - so share this one with your internet-illiterate Aunty - here's the top three scams to look out for.

The ACCC says this year so far, Scamwatch received over 51,000 reports of online scammers, who have swindled unsuspecting people out of $37 million. 45 to 54 year olds have the highest risk of being sucked in.

"It's difficult to spot a scammer online these days as they go to great lengths to trick the public and steal personal information and money," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

So without further waffle, here's the top three scams to watch out for:

Phishing

You'll most often see these scams in an email. The scammers will pretend to be from a well-known business or government departments and they are after your personal information as well as your money.

"For example they might say they're from Apple and you need to reset your password for security reasons," ACCC warns.

"Or they may offer you a gift voucher to a major supermarket for completing a 'survey'."

False billing

These scammers pretend to be from an electricity or telecommunications company, sending you a fake bill which can look very real.

Buying and selling

This is one to look out for if you are - as the name suggests - buying or selling something online.

"For example, they may set up a fake online store that sells well-known brands at seemingly too-good-to-be-true prices," ACCC says. "Or they may set up a fake listing on a classifieds website."

What can you do to avoid being scammed?

"While scammers are often after your money, they're also trying to steal your personal information, which is just as valuable. It's important to safeguard your personal details online the same way you would your wallet," Rickard said.

"If you’re ever contacted out of the blue, particularly via email, by someone asking you to pay a bill, complete a survey or update your passwords, it pays to be sceptical."

And if you're unsure about the legitimacy of something online like a store, classified listing or email you receive, Riockard suggests "do you own research, as others who have been stung by scammers will often post warnings for others."

Scamwatch is the place to go if you think you've been a victim of a scam.

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