Ten Tips to Protect Yourself From Money Scams and Fraud

Do you have a secure password? And are your devices secure? There are plenty of actions you can take to ensure your money and related data are protected. In the second part of our fraud series, Emma from The Broke Generation shares ten ways you can defend yourself from would-be hackers and scammers.

Money scams and online fraud have been more popular than ever in 2021 — those hackers just keep getting more and more sneaky! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to protect yourself from different types of frauds and scams, and we’ve listed our top ten here to help you (and your money) stay safe out there.

1. Make sure your passwords are watertight

When it comes to protecting yourself online, the first place to start is your passwords. There are a number of ways to ensure your passwords are watertight, including:

  • Changing them regularly — yes, regularly!
  • Using a password manager like LastPass to store your passwords securely
  • Staying away from easy-to-guess words or numbers, like birthdays, as often scammers will seek out your date of birth as a means of guessing your password
  • Not using the same password for everything
  • Turning on two-factor authentication using email or Google Authenticator for extra protection

2. Secure your devices

Not only does our data need to be secure, our devices do, too. We connect to all kinds of networks every single day, and hackers are getting pretty good at tapping into our devices in new ways. Keep up to date with software updates on your devices, and consider installing a high-quality anti-virus software. Avoid accessing personal information while connected to public networks, as these tend to be less secure than your home WiFi connection.

3. Never share your personal or login information over the phone

If you’ve received an unsolicited call, never share any login information, PIN numbers, passwords or personal information. You can never guarantee that the person is who they say they are, and often scammers will impersonate your bank or a government agency in an attempt to fool you into sharing your details.

Email scams are one of the most common ways of getting caught out, because links that look legitimate can often lead to more sinister websites designed to capture your information. Be particularly careful with links that lead you to a login screen — but the best way to keep yourself safe is to avoid opening the link altogether. If you’re unsure, contact the sender directly by Googling their phone number or email address, and ask them if the links are safe.

5. Look out for suspicious communications

Letters, emails and texts with spelling errors, generic greetings that don’t identify you by name, or low-quality design can be a red flag sign that something isn’t right.

Be vigilant when contacted by unknown individuals or organisations, and never give out your personal information.

6. Keep your receipts and invoices for your purchases

Keeping proof of your purchases can be helpful in identifying fraudulent transactions and pinpointing where a scammer gained access to your details. Plus, if a transaction turns out to be fraudulent, having a paper trail can help to establish what’s really going on.

7. Report fraud when you suspect it

Reporting fraud and scams plays a huge role in protecting others online, particularly vulnerable people that are more likely to be targeted, like the elderly. You can report scams to the ScamWatch by the ACCC in Australia, NetSafe in New Zealand, or Citizens Advice in the UK.

8. Never allow remote access to your computer

Many scammers will access your information by asking to remotely control your computer. This can result from scammers pretending to be an IT department, your computer manufacturer, or your internet provider, or something similar. Never allow remote access to your device if there’s any doubt in your mind about whether the request is genuine.

9. Watch out for unusual payment methods or requests

Requests for payment in the form of gift cards, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and vouchers are all commonly associated with fraudulent activity. Always hang up the phone and contact the company or department requesting this type of payment and ask if it’s legitimate, if you’re unsure. Remember, tax offices and other government officials will never request payment via these methods.

10. Keep an eye out for ‘too good to be true’ offers

iPhones for $99, free AirPods, flights for next to nothing — if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Don’t risk your protection for a good deal.

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Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.

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