My niece recently got caught up in a Job Seeker scam where the scammers purported to be from the Australian Government Services Australia who have provided advice about scams and identity theft. The text and calls she received were quite realistic and coincided with her appointment at the agency. To her credit she became suspicious when asked for her bank account details and didn’t provide these.
Scams such as this are increasingly prevalent and unfortunately malicious actors are taken advantage of the emergency measures introduced to help during COVID-19. We should all realise that cyber-crime is now part of the world we live. Rather than ignoring that and hoping for the best you can take steps to reduce the risk.
My advice to my niece was to report the scam to authorities which she had already done. She contacted Home Affairs and the local government because she had provided her passport details and drivers licence. She also reported the incident to local police and SCAMWatch. She also closed a bank account that wasn’t active.
After reporting the incident there were several other critical steps that I encouraged her to take:
- Contact all of her institutions and ensure that her contact details were up to date;
- Change her password and use a strong, unique password for all sites (it is best to use a password manager for this);
- Enable 2 factor authentication on all of her important accounts; and
- Review the privacy settings for her social media accounts.
I also showed her how to search the haveibeenpawned website to find out if her email and passwords had been compromised. There had been a recent breach for her related to her education provider and I explained how this could be used to hack other accounts if she reused her password. That is why it is a good idea to use a password manager to create and manage passwords for all your online accounts.
She is a smart young lady and has made these changes. She also posted about it on her Facebook page to help raise awareness with others. I am impressed that she has taken such positive action that provides a role model for other young adults. I also realised how important it still is to let everyone know what they can do to protect themselves.
We all need to embrace cyber-security so that we understand the risks and know what to do. Being responsible for the privacy of your personal information is more important now than ever. Help spread the word.