Know how to recognise a phishing scam & protect your identity online

The mobile phone, our sacred and prized modern possession, opens up a world of information to us, and unfortunately vast opportunities for scammers.

Phishing and identity theft are the topmost common ways people are scammed. The perpetrators are seeking personal information like usernames, passwords, bank details, and more.

It often happens as innocently as this: it’s Sunday morning and you’re scrolling through your emails. As a regular PayPal user, your eyes are used to scanning for these emails. You open the email. The email address looks trustworthy, as does the communications inside that informs you that you need to log in. You’ve clicked on the link and typed in your password. Before you know it, a scammer has captured your password on a site that holds all your financial and personal details. You’ve been scammed, and all within 20 seconds.

This happens all the time. In fact, in 2018 there were 378,000 reports about scams in Australia, contributing to a combined loss of $489 million.

Who is most vulnerable?

The age groups most vulnerable are fairly evenly split from 25-64-year-olds, but our most vulnerable are those who are 65 plus. However, for those in the 55+ category, you’re in the age group that gets scammed out of the most money.

Where do people most get scammed?

Answering phone calls is our most intimate form of communication beyond face-to-face. So, it’s natural a majority of us spend a fair amount of time on the phone. For scammers, phone calls yield the most return. Often, the stranger on the other end seems nice, helpful, and trustworthy. And they’re usually posing as a trusted brand. Of all scams reported, almost half (44 percent) were conducted via a phone call. Followed closely by email scams, at 23 percent.

How to protect yourself from your inbox

There’s a number of key red flags that help you to spot a phishing email. Read below to know what to look for.

  • Think before you click: it’s easy to mindlessly scroll through emails and clicking aimlessly on different links. Be suspicious of any links and attachments that you come across.
  • Copy and paste the email into Google: If in doubt, do an internet search on the exact wording of the message. It’s likely it’s a well-known scam that someone has already tried to warn others about.
  • Read it thoroughly: Check that the email uses your proper name, is free of typos, and is being sent from a legit company email. Often scammer PayPal emails will come from an email that has extra bullet points, or strange letters. Be vigilant and check.
  • Make sure the website is secure: good websites will have “https” in the web address and show the icon of a closed padlock at the start of the URL. Make sure you also check the domain URL. Scammers will have a website that looks similar, with a slightly sketchy web address.


Keep vigilant and wary on your next call from a stranger, and hyper-aware when browsing through your inbox.


Check out our library of articles to help you to prevent becoming a victim of crime.

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