Category: Money Matters
Chapter Select
Sub category: Security

Stay one step ahead of online scams

Just as the internet continues to surprise us every day, so do online scammers and fraudsters. And with COVID-19 related scams on the rise, it’s good to stay in the know with the cyber dark arts so you can quickly spot them. Everyone knows that scam about the foreign prince who says he “needs your help to transfer money in exchange for a large inheritance” or the scam about the lottery prize you’ve won where you need to provide your bank details to collect the prize, but there are lots of sneaky ways cyber criminals can catch you out.

To help you stay vigilant, the ACCC reports on the latest scams on its website:


Keeping your computer secure

The first place to start is right under your nose. Spyware and Malware can snoop on your internet activities on your phone and computer.

Here’s what you can do to protect your computer:

  • Install a reliable internet security program
  • Cover the camera on your laptop or computer (as certain Spyware allows the scammer to watch you and learn your everyday movements)
  • Regularly update your browser and operating system
  • Scan your USB sticks (and other removable media devices) before you use them
  • Disable autorun programs on your computer
  • Don’t open emails from unknown sources.



Phishing is where criminals attempt to get your personal details, like bank account numbers, credit card numbers and most importantly your passwords, normally through the scammer portraying themselves as a trustworthy and genuine source through an email or text.

Phishing messages are designed to look genuine and will copy the format used by the organisation that the scammer is pretending to be.

Do not click on any phishing communication, or any attachments or links contained within that communication. 

What to look for in phishing scams.

 The unusual email or text is likely to be phishing scam if it:

  • Claims to be from a bank you don’t have an account with
  • Includes logos, company names or website addresses that look a little off (for example, the company might be Genuine Company which has the website, but the web address in the email says ‘”
  • Leads to a site that asks you to enter your bank details
  • Says your personal details are required for security upgrades or to ‘verify’ your account
  • Asks you for your username or password to a specific application
  • Says you are to receive a refund for a fee you were mistakenly charged
  • Requests remote access to your computer.

Also watch out for:

  • Emails or texts that do not address you by your proper name and purport to come from a company, but do not use the company’s official website address
  • Spelling or grammatical mistakes in the subject line or communication
  • Surveys that offer a reward or prize for completing it
  • Websites or pop-up ads offering ‘too good to be true’ discounts
  • Unusual messages from people you don’t know in your social media accounts.

Here’s what a phishing email looks like:

phishing email example

We will never send you an email asking for your log in details.



This is a scam where your charge card numbers are stolen, often through card processing gadgets. For example, a device might be placed over the top of the card reader at an ATM to try and record your account numbers.

How to avoid skimming scams

Naturally, you should immediately contact your bank if you suspect there is something unusual going on, but it’s better to avoid the problem by making it harder for criminals to steal your information.

  • Choose an ATM that looks like it’s in a secure location (ie the location has visible security cameras), like a bank
  • Give the card reader a little jiggle before you use it. If it’s loose, there’s a good chance that it’s dodgy.

If you think that you’ve been skimmed, call the ATM’s bank and your bank straight away.



“Porting” happens when someone steals your personal information to transfer your mobile phone number to them without your knowledge or consent.

This can happen by the scammer:

  • setting up a new account with different phone company (by pretending to be you) and then porting your number; or
  • contacting your existing phone company pretending to be you and requesting a new SIM card which contains your number, for use on their mobile.

Once transferred, your stolen mobile phone number can be used to receive SMS verification codes and allowing that person to access your personal services, such as your bank, email and social media accounts.

You’ll know your phone number has been ported if you unexpectedly lose phone reception or coverage (you’re unable to make or receive calls or messages) and your phone goes to ‘SOS only’ when everyone else has reception bars.

How to protect your phone from being ported

Noting that scammers still need your personal information to port your phone (including your full name, mobile phone number, date of birth and answers to security questions), you should be extra careful with your personal information online.  Some handy tips to prevent porting are below:

  • Hide your mobile phone number from public viewing in your social media profiles. You can Google your mobile phone number to see where it shows up and have it taken down.
  • Remove your birth date from public view (similar to your mobile phone number) – keep in mind that a scammer can work out your birth date from photos or posts on social media.
  • Scammers can gain your personal information from your personal mail, so make sure you have a lock on your letterbox or consider using a PO Box.
  • Keep the PIN numbers and passwords you use for telephone companies and banks secret.


Unsolicited phone calls

Sometimes a scam will start with a phone call you didn’t ask for from a person or company you don’t know.

Some examples of unsolicited phone scams are:

  • The scammer mentions that you need to make a payment or confirm your bank details.
  • The scammer mentions a service you didn’t sign up for and needs your details to process it
  • You receive an automated voice call asking for sensitive information
  • If in doubt, call the company’s general line phone number advertised on their official website to confirm they called you. However, be wary that if you’ve never heard of the company before, the website may be set up to make the scam more credible.


We’re here to help

If you have lost your card, you can use the ING mobile banking app or online banking to put your card on hold. This gives you time to find it without worrying if someone else might be trying to use it. Once your card’s been found, you can breathe a sigh of relief – and then take it off hold.

If your Visa card is lost or stolen or used without your permission or you see an unusual transaction in your statement, contact us immediately on 133 464 (+61 2 9028 4077) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When signing into ING online banking, make sure you can see the padlock icon in the address bar. Also, the welcome screen will let you know the last time you signed in. If that does not ring true, contact us immediately on 133 464 (+61 2 9028 4077)

For more info on how to stay secure, visit

The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by ING Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms

Related articles

Money Matters