There are plenty of resources and strategies available to help you avoid scams, and both government agencies and private organisations exist that can help you if you think you have been the target of a scam.
Unlike hoaxes, scams are intended to get money or something else of value from their targets, like your personal information or remote access to your device. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has some good information on identifying, avoiding and reporting scams. Many of the precautions that will help protect you from scams are part of being a good digital citizen, such as:
- being aware of and using your social media privacy settings
- using strong passwords
- taking care with your personal details
- using anti-virus software and keeping it up to date.
Youth Law Australia has useful strategies and resources for protecting yourself from scams.
These scams tend to begin with someone contacting you with an offer of money. They will generally ask for your bank details, your credit card details, or detailed personal information.
Always remember that no one from a bank or government agency will ever call you without warning and ask for any of these details.
Phishing is the name given to scams that focus on getting your personal details, with the end goal of being able to impersonate you online. The less personal information you share online publicly, the more you are protected from these sorts of scams, as they often rely on piecing together enough information to seem genuine.
In general, it is good practice to only download files or click links from trusted sources. Some files can contain malicious software (or ‘malware’) that allows someone else to gain access to your device. Anti-virus software can protect you from most malware if it is kept up to date, but not downloading mystery files is the single best strategy to avoid malware.