Wednesday, 23 August 2017
We’ve all heard about the Nigerian Prince who needs to transfer money out of the country and has selected us to send it to. Haven’t we? Phone and internet scams are all around us, in fact, they're so common that the ACCC recorded more than 105,000 scams a year, which resulted in losses of more than $84 million. That's only the ones that were reported: many more went unreported, often because the victim was too embarrassed to do so.
So to help you be on the lookout for, and hopefully avoid falling into their blackening pit of online deceit, we've put together a list of 10 most common scams.
1. The Urgent Transfer
What it looks like: You receive an email from a friend, family member or senior staff member telling you they need urgent access to funds. The story adds up (they're probably overseas and short on time). Besides, it comes from their email address and looks authentic.
What's really happening: Their email account has been compromised and you're transferring your money straight into the scammer's bank account.
What can you do to avoid it: Do not reply to that email. Create a new email to that friend and ask them if they are ok, or if you can, privately message them on social media to confirm their status.
2. The Mail That Never Came
What it looks like: That credit card you applied for never seemed to arrive.
What's really happening: Scammers accessed your letterbox and intercepted the card before you had a chance to receive it. They've changed the PIN and are now using it for themselves. In the process, they're racking up a significant debt in your name. And its not just your credit card mail they will take.
What can you do to avoid it: Put a lock on your letterbox, or use a PO Box, or at least check your mailbox regularly.
3. The Parcel Pickup
What it looks like: A postal delivery company sends you an email telling you that you have a parcel that can't be delivered. If you can't collect it within 7 days it will be destroyed. But first, you need to print off a label to redeem your package.
What's really happening: Rather than printing a label, you're actually downloading dangerous ransomware. Once it's installed, scammers can use it to lock files and even destroy them. The only way you can take back control is to pay them. Making sure your computer is regularly backed up can also help counter-effect the impact of ransomware.
What can you do to avoid it: This one is really scary as all you can do to get back control of your computer, and files, is to pay them. Think before you click on anything you aren’t sure of: Are you expecting a parcel? Why would it not have been delivered? Pick up the phone and call before clicking.
4. The Tax Refund
What it looks like: You receive an email from a government agency advising you of a tax refund. To receive it, all you need to do is follow the link to your bank and enter your account details.
What's really happening: The link takes you to a fake site set up by the scammers. Instead of giving your account details – and internet banking password – to your bank, you're actually delivering this vital information straight into the scammer's hands.
What can you do to avoid it: Unless you are instigating a transfer, never put your bank account details into any site you are not sure of.
5. The 'Free' WiFi
What it looks like: You're at the airport or hotel and need to connect your laptop or mobile to the internet. When you search for a connection, you're in luck. There's a free hotspot right nearby.
What's really happening: You've actually just connected to a fake network. This allows a scammer to intercept all network traffic and steal your personal information. And the pain doesn't stop there. From now on, every time you turn on your device, you could be transmitting the same 'free' wifi to other unsuspecting users.
What can you do to avoid it: You should only connect to wifi that you know is legitimate and, if in doubt, pay to access a secure network. You should also make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and your firewall is turned on.
6. The Unrealistic Job Offer
What it looks like: You respond to an advertisement that promises you'll earn good money from the comfort of your home as an 'accounts processor'. All you need to do is set up a bank account and forward any money that comes into it, onto another account. You even get a cut of each transaction for your troubles.
What's really happening: You're being used by fraudsters as a “money mule”: an everyday person with no criminal history through whose bank account they'll move the proceeds of crime.
What can you do to avoid it: This is money laundering, done by organized crime, and you can be implicated and go to jail. Easy money doesn’t exist. Check, research, and qualify before you go the easy route.
7. The Speeding Fine
What it looks like: A government body/law enforcement agency, emails you to tell you that your vehicle has been caught speeding. You need to download the photo they've taken to confirm you were driving.
What's really happening: The link you click on downloads ransomware to your computer. You'll have to pay the scammers to get back the files they encrypt.
What can you do to avoid it: Same as #3, this is hard to back out of and will end up costing you a lot of money. Do your research before you click on things you are not sure of.
8. The Computer Problem
What it looks like: You receive a call from your internet service provider. They've detected a virus on your computer and it's sending error messages. The good news is that they can fix it, so long as you give them remote access.
What's really happening: You've handed control of your computer to a scammer. They'll probably try to steal your personal data or hold your computer to ransom until you pay.
What can you do to avoid it: Never hand over remote access to anyone! If it’s that bad, take it to the service providers storefront and ask them about it.
9. The Store Voucher
What it looks like: A well-known brand uses its social media account to post that it's giving away gift vouchers or free flights or another very attractive perk. To claim your prize, all you need to do is like the post. Like this photo, or share it if it tugs on your heartstrings, or type Amen then share, or type the solution then like.
What's really happening: You've fallen victim to a 'like farming' scam. The page isn't authentic but has been set up by a scammer who's trying to get as many likes as possible. They'll on-sell these likes - and your profile - to other fraudsters, who will start pushing spam posts in an effort to get hold of your credit card data.
What can you do to avoid it: Oh this is so common! If it’s not a friends post or a known source, stay away, don’t get sucked in by emotions or because you think you are clever enough to know the answer.
AND THAT”S JUST THE BEGINNING . . .
As the world becomes alert to the prevalence of scams, scammers are responding by becoming more creative. So, as these 9 scams start to become less effective, it's likely that newer and more sophisticated ones will take their place.
RULE OF THUMB
Email: Don’t open or download any links or attachments that you are unsure of. Research them prior to doing so. Get on the phone and check the source. Some emails may seem to come from a reputable name YourFriend, but when you click on that from name, you will find the real source: YourFriend <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Social Media: Only respond to known posts – friends and businesses that are familiar to you.
This list was prepared by Your Money Sense where you can find out what your emotional attachment to money is and how to overcome and manage it. (We all have an emotional attachment to money)
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
If you want to build or maintain a healthy financial life, budgeting should be your fundamental starting point. After all, how can you tell you’re on track if you don’t know where your hard-earned pay-cheque is going?
Some of us, correction: most of us, will find it daunting to maintain a budget. Getting all your expenses together, tracking what should be paid and when, how much you have left for entertainment, saving for long-term goals – it’s enough to make you give up before you start. But what if there was an easier way to manage your cash-flow that didn’t require hours of sifting through receipts or crunching numbers?
There is and it’s not that hard to get started. It starts with categorising your monthly spending into four buckets:
BUCKET ONE Fixed costs. These are bills that don’t fluctuate much and remain pretty constant each week or month, or whatever period they are relevant to: things like rent or mortgage, a phone bill or your car payment. It also includes essential costs that may vary slightly from month to month, like utility bills such as electricity or water. Although they may vary slightly, you can work out an average for the purpose of this budget. But generally speaking, if you can predict how much an expense will be, it belongs in this category.
BUCKET TWO Financial goals.These include any sort of savings or debt goal you’re trying to work towards every month, whether that’s paying off credit card balances, paying down your student loans, saving for a home or paying into an emergency fund regularly, or topping up your Super on a regular basis.
BUCKET THREE Non-monthly expenses.Got a bill that you have to pay at some point every year, but just not every month? This could include your home or car insurance or for that matter, most annual insurances, car registration fees, annual health payments, and even school tuition belongs in this category. Add up what those types of costs total to each year, then divide that total by 12. That should be what you’re setting aside each month to cover those expenses when they come up.
BUCKET FOUR Flexible spending.This category covers all those everyday costs that fluctuate each month. This can include groceries, restaurants, shopping, movies, petrol and pretty much any expense that may vary month to month.
So now that you’ve categorized your costs, how much can you actually flexibly spend each month without blowing your budget? Well, that’s a relatively easy calculation. What is your monthly take-home pay? From that, subtract your total fixed costs, and your financial goal contributions, and those non-monthly expenses you calculated. The amount that’s left over is what’s available to cover your flexible spending – the daily coffees, new shoes, magazines, etc.
If you want to know what your flexible spending is per week just divide your monthly figure by 4.3, and you’ll have your weekly spending number to stick to. So if you work out the above, and stick to it, you won’t be in danger of spending more than you earn.
If you can put your hands on the numbers from your bills, it’s not that hard to work out. And if you can work to a budget each week or month, you’ll certainly be on your way to building a financially secure future.