How to protect yourself from increasingly sophisticated scams
We are living in a digital world where we are often just one click away from catastrophe.
Many people believe they wouldn’t fall for a phishing fraud – but scammers have become increasingly sophisticated in their methods, making it’s harder to tell the fakes from the real deal.
‘Flubot’ text messages
Since August, thousands of Australians have been targeted by the ‘Flubot’ text message scam used by fraudsters to steal their personal information.
These scam texts tell the recipient they have missed calls, voicemails, or deliveries, and ask you to tap on a link to download an app to track or organise a time for delivery or hear a voicemail message. The app is actually malicious software called Flubot which can harvest bank details from their phone.
Some examples of the ‘Flubot’ text messages:
Android phones and iPhones can both receive texts from the Flubot.
If you receive one of these messages, do not click or tap on the link. Delete the message and block the number immediately.
What to do if you’ve downloaded the Flubot
If you have clicked on the link, don’t open any other apps or websites and immediately contact your bank and report the incident to find out if you’ve lost any cash.
Just deleting the app will not necessarily get the sinister malware off your phone. Cleaning your device using the steps below will remove the malicious software from your device. To clean your device, you can:
- contact an IT professional
- download official Android anti-virus software through the Google Play Store
- perform a factory reset of the device.
Note that performing a factory reset of your device will delete all of your data including photos, messages, and authentication applications.
Fake tax office scams
The latest scam reported by the ATO is one where scammers try to trick people into making payments by pretending to be from the ATO and other agencies, such as the Australian Federal Police.
They might tell you that your TFN has been suspended or compromised due to money laundering or other illegal activity, or that you owe a debt. Suggested payment methods are:
- Cardless cash ATM withdrawals;
- Retail gift cards, such as JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Woolworths;
- Courier services who collect the cash payments;
- Cash delivery made in person at a pre-determined public location.
The ATO says it will never demand payment by these methods. You should always check legitimate ways to pay a tax debt on the ATO’s website before making a payment.
If you have paid money to a scammer through one of the methods listed above or are concerned about your personal safety, report it to your local police straight away and specify all the details.
The ATO also strongly encourages you to contact your financial institution immediately. In some cases, they may be able to stop a transaction or close your account if the scammer has your account details.
If you’re ever unsure whether an ATO contact is genuine, hang up and phone them on 1800 008 540 to check.
Check out the ACCC’s Scamwatch website for helpful tips and resources.
Warning signs of scams
Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to trick people. However, there are some common warning signs which will help you spot a scam:
- Misspelled text messages, strange emails addresses or URLs
- If they have copied a firm’s branding, small flaws in the design may reveal it’s not real
- Generic greetings – if it’s genuine they’d likely call you by your name.
- Asking for personal details
- Creating a sense of urgency in a bid to get you to click on a link
To protect yourself, take a moment to verify if you receive a phone call, email, SMS from a trusting source and do not click on any links, open any attachments or download any files if you are unsure.
We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page and make a report to ReportCyber if you have been a victim of this cybercrime. Don’t forget to spread the word to your friends and family to protect them!
Source: ACCC, ATO
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