The rising cost of cybercrime

Last year, more than six million consumers – one in three Australian adults – fell victim to identity theft, credit card fraud or had their passwords compromised. This cost the Australian economy more than $2.3 billion, and, at an individual level, cost each victim an average of approximately $195 and 16.2 hours (or more than two business days) to rectify.

We explain two common traps that you should watch out for and how to protect yourself online.

Golden opportunity investment scams

These scams involve a fraudster offering you a fake investment opportunity that is ‘not to be missed’, ‘high return’ or ‘guaranteed’. Disturbingly, in 2018 more than $26 million has been reported lost to investment scams.

With the recent hype surrounding cryptocurrency, this is one type of investment where scamming is prevalent. The fraudsters advertise themselves as a person or company that helps people invest in cryptocurrency. If you show interest, the ‘investment broker’ directs you to a website that looks very professional and encourages you to sign up. After completing the registration, they ask you to deposit money by transferring funds or depositing cryptocurrency into their online wallet. Once they receive your ‘investment’ the scammer becomes difficult to contact or disappears completely. You receive no return and your investment funds are gone for good.

To check if a company is licensed, use the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) Australian Financial Services licensee register and before parting with any money, speak with your financial planner.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that locks your computer so you can’t access your files until you pay a fee.

Ransomware can be an attachment or link in an email or on a website.

One type of is ransomware is Lockscreen ransomware. It locks your computer screen or files. A message will appear on your screen telling you that you need to pay a ransom before you get your access back. You won’t be able to remove the message or access your desktop, apps or any files until you enter the password to unlock your screen.

If you are ever infected with ransomware — The Australian Federal Police strongly advise that you never pay the ransom. Instead, restore your files from backup and seek technical advice.

For further information on cybercrime visit the Scamwatch and ACORN websites.

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