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The other day I almost clicked on a link on a Facebook Page that was informing me that Kmart were giving away $1000 gift vouchers. Just as I was about to reach for the mouse when a Norton Screen suddenly popped up announcing that it had blocked some suspicious incoming content. I was more than relieved and promptly ‘unliked’ the Facebook group page where this came from.

A good lesson learned, I thought especially when it is so easy to get lured into something when you are so keen to win. Later that morning I was flipping through the SMH TV Guide and came across an interesting article on Web Security alerting readers to ‘clickjacking’.

Here is a little of what it said: “Social media has emerged as the perfect playground for click tricks. Scammers reach out to us when we are relaxed, seemingly in safe company among our friends – ideal for baiting users with compromised content.” So even Facebook is not safe from scammers, so beware and report anything suspicious to phish@fb.com.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has put out a handy little brochure called The Little Black Book of Scams and I would recommend anyone interested getting a copy of this free publication and registering for email scam updates and reports through www.scamwatch.gov.au. This site and the booklet outline all kinds of scams including advance fee cams, banking and online account scams, dating and romance scams, business and charity scams but the one that is most relevant here to dedicated compers are the lottery, sweepstakes and competition scams and computer hacking scams.

Competition, sweepstakes and lottery scams are run both online and by snail mail. Scammers often buy mailing lists of people who enter competitions from other scammers which can indicate that giving up so much information in a competition entry can have a flow on effect which we only find out about later on. Competition scams can involve trying to trick you into giving money upfront or personal details in order to receive a prize. Most of the time these scams are easy to detect as legitimate lotteries do not require these to collect prizes.

They can also involve, like the one I discovered, clicking another link for further information which can then activate the scam. This is where a little restraint may be necessary. Simply think about it. Do you know where the email came from? Does it sound too far fetched to be true? Snail mail scams often come from overseas and if you have no knowledge of where they came from or who sent it, you are probably looking at a scam. Just rip these up and place them in the bin. To protect yourself from scams it is also extremely important to keep your computer and mailbox secure.

Make sure you continue to update your firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and only buy reputable ones. Keep your letterbox safe as well as fraudsters can access personal details from much of your snail mail. Finally here is a list of the government agencies that can deal with scams if they affect you. If you are involved in a group, they often have speakers who will come out and give talks about scams – that’s part of their job! And don’t forget – you can always contact your local police.

NSW – NSW Office of Fair Trading – www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

Victoria – Consumer Affairs Victoria – www.consumer.vic.gov.au Qld –

Queensland Office of Fair Trading – www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au

South Australia – Consumer and Businesses Services SA – www.ocba.sa.gov.au

ACT – ACT Office of Regulatory Services – www.ors.act.gov.au

NT – NT Consumer Affairs – www.consumeraffairs.nt.gov.au

Tasmania – Tasmanian Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading – www.consumer.tas.gov.au

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