Computer screen displaying shopping website
Lady talking

Your Friend

Hey I see you’re doing online shopping. It looks like the site you are using is asking you to set-up an account first. Can I make a suggestion? Use a really strong password. Here, which one of these is the strongest?

Lady shrugging her shoulders

Your Friend

That’s easy to remember, but it’s also really easy to crack. Scammers use computers that go through words and dates automatically, until they ‘crack’ your password. You need to choose something that is harder to ‘crack’.

Unsure lady

Your Friend

Having a long password with CAPITALS and lowercase is good, but this password only contains letters, so it’s easier to 'crack'. Scammers use computers that go through letter combinations automatically, until they ‘crack’ your password. You need to choose something that is harder to ‘crack’.

Happy lady

Your Friend

Hey good choice! A long password with a mix of CAPITALS and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols is hard to 'crack'.

But no password is unbreakable, so change it regularly for extra protection. Also, use different passwords for every online account.

Now have a look at your email, you should get one asking to confirm your account set-up.

Looks like the email contains a link offering a free iPhone if you participate in their survey.

Lady talking

Your Friend

It’s good that you’re suspicious of the link, but clicking it is the worst thing you can do.

Scammers can make emails appear like they come from a legitimate website or they may have taken over a friend’s computer and sent emails to everyone in their address book.

These emails can use fake offers or competitions to get you to visit their websites. These websites collect your personal information or secretly download software to your computer that steals your bank details and passwords. Then they sell this information to spammers or worse, use it to clean out your bank accounts and even take out loans in your name. This is called identity theft.

Nuetral lady

Your Friend

It’s good that you’re suspicious and are checking the sender address to see if it’s legitimate. But just because it seems to come from a friend or a legitimate website, does not mean it’s safe.

Scammers can make emails appear like they come from a legitimate website or they may have taken over your friend’s computer and sent emails to everyone in their address book.

These emails can use fake offers or competitions to get you to visit their websites. These websites collect your personal information or secretly download software to your computer that steals your bank details and passwords. Then they sell this information to spammers or worse, use it to clean out your bank accounts and even take out loans in your name.

Lady winking

Your Friend

Deleting the email was a smart move. Clicking email links or opening attachments can result in your bank details and passwords being stolen and sold to spammers or worse, used to clean out your bank accounts and even take out loans in your name.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never click on links or open attachments from senders you don’t know. You should even be careful of emails sent from people you do know, because their computers may be infected.

Lady with her arm out

Your Friend

That’s right. Try to stick to well-known online retailers that have a secure payment page and are known to be reliable and trustworthy. But if you do shop elsewhere, research them before you buy and see what others have to say.

It’s also worth remembering that even if a site seems to be safe today, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be safe tomorrow. So always be on guard.

Lady laughing

Your Friend

Scammers use special offers, low prices and limited time offers to pressure people into buying.

If you buy from a website with no track record or a bad reputation, you risk being ripped off or worse having your credit card or bank account details stolen.

Lady shrugging her shoulders

Your Friend

It’s a great idea to check the reviews and reputation of a website before buying. But even that doesn’t guarantee your safety, because scammers can post fake reviews.

If you buy from websites like these, you risk being ripped off or worse having your credit card or bank account details stolen.

Lady talking

Your Friend

Not the best move. Scammers can hack legitimate websites and turn them into scam sites or redirect you to a scam website. They can create fake websites that look like the real thing, but with a slightly different web address, that you may not notice.

Once on their scam website they can do all sorts of things. They can secretly download software to your computer, collect your personal information and so on.

In this case, they showed you a fake virus scan and got you to download dodgy software. This software might take over your computer or steal your bank details and passwords.

Lady winking

Your Friend

Well done. You avoided another dodgy website. So what can you learn from this experience?

Lady laughing

Your Friend

Well done on ignoring the virus alert. This was a fake virus scan and if you had downloaded the software it may have stolen your bank details and passwords, and even taken over your computer.

But just because you didn’t download the software, doesn’t mean you are safe because scammers still might be downloading software onto your computer without your knowledge.

Scammers can hack legitimate websites and turn them into scam sites or redirect you to a scam website. They can also create fake websites that look like the real thing, but with a slightly different web address, that you may not notice.

Once on their scam website they can do all sorts of things: secretly download software to your computer, collect your personal information and more.

Lady thumbs up

Your Friend

So you’ve found a website that looks OK, and you are about to buy your phone. But is it covered by a warranty? Can you get your money back if it’s not right? How long will it take to deliver?

Lady talking

Your Friend

Just one last thing. If you do get scammed by someone hacking into your account and using your bank details, take action straight away. Don’t wait! Call your bank and get your cards and accounts frozen. Change your passwords.

Visit SCAMwatch to report a scam and get advice on what to do if you have been scammed.

The longer you take to act, the worse things can get.

OK, hopefully you're much more informed to stay safe online.

View more teaching resources on moneysmart.gov.au