Quick ways to spot a scam

While some scams are easy to spot, there are others that can catch us unaware. So, what are the five things to look for that simply scream ‘scam’?

Generic greetings
Any email, phone call or letter that claims to be from an authority such as your bank or ATO and refers to you as ‘resident’, ‘sir or madam’ or any such similarly vague term should be ignored at all costs. And if only your first name or Mr xxxx is used, look back at previous correspondence to see if this is the common greeting used.

Company logo
It’s not uncommon for scams to originate overseas and as a result, they may use an old company logo, letterhead or have a spelling mistake in the company name. Also, if the font or image looks distorted in any way, then this is often an indication that it’s a cut and paste job.

Use of language
If the language isn’t quite proper English, has grammatical mistakes or, is overly formal or threatening, then it’s a bit of a giveaway. Companies tend not to threaten you with court or legal action in an email or first correspondence. And if the language indicates that it may not be the person writing the communication’s first language, then there’s a good chance it’s not legitimate.

Click through
Banks, financial institutions, government organisations, etc, should never ask you to click through to a website from an email. They will ask you to contact them directly, or log onto your account. Never, ever click through to a website from an email that asks you to confirm or provide personal details.

Quoting changes in legislation
If you’re contacted by an organisation or company quoting that a change in legislation may mean you can now easily switch utility company, claim lost money, lodge your tax return, etc, make sure you do your own check. A quick Google search will either confirm the claim to be legitimate or you’ll be served details of current scams using this method.

Three simple tips to avoid being scammed

  1. If you receive an email unexpectedly, either ignore it or contact the sending organisation directly
  2. If you’re provided with a contact number, run it through a quick Google search or contact the organisation using the number on its website to confirm legitimacy.
  3. Never provide your bank details, credit card number, date of birth, or any other personal information to someone who contacts you requesting these details for verification.

If you think you have received a scam email, either delete or contact the official organisation to verify.

Keep up to date with the latest scams doing the rounds at Scamwatch.gov.au

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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