How to keep you and your family safe online

an image of a father and daughter using a laptop


The number of internet users around the world has grown by more than 1.9 billion since 20141. As the time we spend online to find information, shop or network increases, so does our risk of getting caught in scams and other cyber-attacks.

Australians are set to lose a record $532 million by the end of 2019 to scams2, so knowing how to keep you and your family safe online is more important than ever.

Scammers don’t discriminate. They target everyone including kids and the elderly, so it’s important to have open conversations with your family about how to stay vigilant and avoid falling victim to online scams.

Talking to your kids
Scammers love mobile phone and social media just as much as your kids. Recently TikTok, a leading mobile video sharing platform, was targeted. Scammers lured young users to download a fake app or click on a malicious link – aiming to get hold of their personal information and money. There are however some important steps you can take to make sure your kids stay clear of scams.

  • Explore platforms together – visit sites and apps your child likes and talk openly about any concerns you may have, and what you both think is appropriate.
  • Talk to them about what they can and shouldn’t share – explain why it’s important to keep personal information (full name, address, school) private.
  • Show them how to block and report social media contacts – remind them to keep an eye on suspicious activity and immediately block any social accounts if they think it may have been hacked.
  • Update their security and privacy settings – explain why being ‘stranger aware’ is just as important online.
  • Keep the conversation going – check in with your children regularly about what they’re doing online.

Talking to your parents
Senior Australians (and their retirement savings) are an attractive target for scammers. So far in 2019 people aged 55 and over have lost more money than younger generations, on average losing $12,234.813. Investment scams tend to target this generation over the phone, offering enticing returns and taking advantage of lonely seniors through fake social media profiles - read more about the story here.

Here are some tips to on how to have a conversation about the rising risks with your parents. 

  • Talk about the types of scams they should be wary of, and suggest they sign up to alerts like ScamWatch Radar to stay up to date.
  • Explain what to do if they think they’ve been targeted. Depending on the type of scam, they should let you know, contact their financial institution (if their accounts were accessed), and report it to Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).
  • Warn them to be wary of new friend requests on social media. If they do connect with strangers, they should cut ties immediately if they ask for money – no matter how genuine the new friend sounds.
  • Advise them to be suspicious of unexpected payment requests, such as a bill from a supplier. If they receive an invoice they weren’t expecting, they should contact the supplier over the phone immediately.

Looking out for yourself 
The growing popularity of eCommerce has led scammers to target online shoppers, profiting over $4.0 million already this year3. Cyber criminals set up fake websites that look like real online stores to steal your personal information, money – and potentially your identity. Learn more on protecting your identity here.

Here are some things to look out for when shopping online.

  • Unsecure payment methods – avoid sites with bank transfers, bitcoin and international funds transfer payment options. Legitimate eCommerce sites should offer secure options, such as credit card or PayPal. Safe and secure web pages start with ‘https://’ and display a closed padlock icon. More on how to shop online safely here.
  • Social media stores – avoid new stores on social media with alluring bargains. It’s not worth the risk. Check for a secure website and legitimate customer reviews.
  • Check privacy policies – fake stores typically don’t provide much information on privacy or terms and conditions, so look out for these before you go through the checkout.

Awareness is the first step to keep you and your family safe online. If you think you’ve been a target or victim of a scam, there are steps you can take:

  • Report the incident to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC);
  • Contact your financial institution, if you’ve shared your personal banking information or sent money to a scammer;
  • Contact IDCare if you suspect your identity has been stolen; and
  • Let your friends, family, clients and other immediate contacts know about the scams so they can protect themselves from further harms.

For more cyber security tips, visit our security hub.

Sources:
1. https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2019/01/30/digital-trends-2019-every-single-stat-you-need-to-know-about-the-internet/
2. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/news/record-losses-expected-as-scammers-target-australians
3. https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/news/what-are-top-three-online-scams-targeting-older-australians-2019
4. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/about-scamwatch/scam-statistics?scamid=all&date=2019

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