The greed of criminals are lured to anything they think will make an easy target and therefore we are urged to secure our online identity as best we can and without delay. In years gone by our identity was kept in our wallets and at home. However, with new technologies come new ways for criminals to target the unwary.
Your information is out there on the web in some way. It is impossible to avoid the online world without some sort of exposure so your diligence in your security has never been more important.
As you can see in the charts, physical information like your driver’s licence, credit card or passport are important aspects of your identity and are vulnerable, but by far, the bigger threat is technology.
Willingness to tell scammers information over the phone or by email is likely to get you into trouble.
Criminals are becoming more online savvy by creating convincing websites that link to fake government, bank or other familiar sites like shipping companies.
What do you do (or don’t do) if you receive a suspect email?
* Do not click on links, attachments or files provided to banks, government or other sites emailed to you. The genuine entity will usually send you a corresponding letter if there is something that needs to be addressed. Even then you have the right to confirm authenticity.
* Don’t ever give up your passcodes through these emails.
* Look up the trusted site and compare URLs to double check the site).
* You can also call the company that is identified from the phonebook or other trusted source if there is any question.
Scammers are very good at preying on your curiosity where an email title looks interesting from what seems like a legitimate entity. But if in doubt, watch out!
An example of a phone scam is the people calling you claiming to be from Microsoft and saying that you have a problem with your computer. If you let them “fix” your computer you will find that
they want access to your computer remotely (which you should never do!) and then charge you to remove “the problem” opening yourself up to identity theft, malware or ransomware. Click on SCAMwatch.gov.au to access more information about this scam.
How Can Scams Involve My SMSF?
Self-managed super funds have become vulnerable because they are held in individual accounts. Access cards or a compromised computer can expose your funds to criminal enterprises. Guard passwords and PIN numbers. Protect your cards from remote scanners. An account that you can view often may allow you to see discrepancies quicker and alert your bank and authorities sooner. Remedy any discrepancy with your SMSF as soon as possible. You will thank yourself for it and will likely avoid unnecessary fines or audits.
Be vigilant. In previous years thieves have targeted letter boxes in apartment complexes and according to reports, police said pre-activated credit cards and Medibank cards were the items targeted. The thieves would often return to find other information to build profile of the victim.
(I bought a $15 shredder and always shred anything with a name or address on it.)
Who’s at risk?
Older males who have invested previously, especially if he has lost and trying to catch up, he will be more easily lured to a fraudster.
It is sad but even when people have been contacted by authorities it is still hard to convince them they have lost their money and some even put more money in believing they will get it back in the end.
Sometimes we feel that because we are in the safety of our own home we are not a target. When we travel we make sure we blend in as much as possible to minimise risk and take precautions before we leave. Do the same for investing. If we take precautions we can minimise the risk.
How much do Australians lose each year? It costs around $900million lost by individuals through credit card fraud, identity theft and scams according to the Australian Federal Police. For more on identity crime check afp.gov.au.
How can you minimise your risk?
Keep track of your bank statements and what is being charged to your account.
If a government agency or a bank email appears out of the blue asking for personal data, it is more than likely a scam. You should not open the email! Call the agency or company in question with the number from the directory and ask whether they need information. If you think it is a scam, report it to asic.gov.au and SCAMwatch.gov.au.
Do your Due Diligence, don’t take anyone’s word for it check on the companies that you intend to invest with or in. Make sure you can call them, ask for a prospectus and check with asic.gov.au on great tips on steps to take on protecting yourself when dealing with businesses.
To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:
1) Limit the amount of personal information you publish online:
c) Wage or earnings
d) Name, especially your middle name
e) Tax File Number
2) Secure your computer and mobile phone with security software and strong passwords.
3) Be cautious about requests for personal information over the internet, phone and in person. 4) Learn how to avoid common scams by visiting SCAMwatch.gov.au.
5) Investigate the arrival of new credit cards you didn’t ask for or bills for goods and services that aren’t yours.
6) Be alert for any unusual bank transactions or missing mail.
7) Order a free copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency on a regular basis, particularly if your identity has been stolen. 8) If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, report it to your local police, ACORN or iDcare.
*This article was created as general information only and not to be considered complete or advice. Individual circumstances and financial needs vary from person to person and the intent is to provide an overview of the considerations concerning SMSFs or investors. Links to other sites do not constitute endorsement or accuracy of the information contained within the referenced website.