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Avoid fraud on your accounts with the following tips to protect your personal and financial information:
Using your smartphone has become a popular and convenient way to access internet content while you are away from home. Unfortunately, this means your iPhone, Blackberry or other internet enabled mobile phones are increasingly being targeted by fraudsters wishing to gain access to your personal details. The below tips can help you keep the personal details you have stored on your smartphone safe and secure:
Back-up your files
Back-up your files on a regular basis to ensure important files and information aren’t lost in the event of a system corruption. The easiest way to do this is to burn your files to a CD using back-up software.
Make sure you update your operating system and software applications regularly. Software manufacturers attempt to fix problems with their products with small software programs called ’patches’. These patches are generally free to download. If you’re running Windows, go to Microsoft’s website and click on Windows Update, this will tell you what patches you need to install. If you’re running Macintosh OSX, click on “software update” in the “systems preferences” panel. This will check for available updates.
If you’re connected to the Internet you need firewall protection – this is especially so if you are a broadband customer. Firewall software is a valve that only lets desirable traffic get through and stops any unwanted or malicious connections. Make sure you read the manual and set your preferences appropriately.
The best protection is anti-virus software that attempts to trap viruses before they get to your computer. The software scans all incoming information looking for patterns or definitions that match known viruses. Anti-virus software needs to be kept up-to-date. Make sure you regularly log onto the manufacturer’s website and download updates.
Keeping spam at bay is essential to block viruses and phishing scams. Reputable anti-Spam software will detect possible spam and move it to a separate file for you to later review. You can also subscribe to a spam-trapping service. These services act as a filter, removing dodgy email before it gets to your inbox. Ask your internet service provider (ISP) if it offers any anti-spam filters.
Don’t reply or buy anything from spam emails. Never contribute to a charity from spam mail. Don’t forward chain email messages, as these may be hoaxes or even a virus delivery system. Plus you lose control over who sees your email address. Spammers also use chain letters to gather email addresses.
It is also important to hide your email address from spammers. When you sign up for free offers, order something online, or enter a contest, many spammers will access and use these address lists. Here are some tips to help hide your address:
‘Phishing’ is the latest form of online fraud. Most commonly, the term ‘phising’ is given to any email that entices the recipient to hand over personal details that could be used to access their personal information or accounts. The emails usually appear to be sent from someone you recognise or trust.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Queenslanders will NEVER ask you for your security information via email. If you receive an email, purportedly from Queenslanders, asking for confirmation of your personal details, contact us by phone immediately.
A phishing email may contain links that redirect you to the fraudster’s fake website. These websites can look identical to the real (i.e. legitimate) website. These website copies are called “spoofed” websites, and often include identical logos, formatting and design elements.
Spoofed websites will prompt you to enter your account details, passwords and other identification – the “phisher” has then caught you! It may be weeks before you notice that anything is amiss with your accounts. You may then notice your account balance is lower than you thought, or your credit card statement has strange items charged to it. If this happens to you, notify us immediately.
Viruses come in many different forms; however, they are all nasty programs that can infect your computer and cause chaos. Virtually all viruses and many ‘worms’ only spread once you open or run an infected program.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Never open any email attachments unless you were expecting them and you are aware of the file contents. If you are unsure about any file you receive either delete it or contact the sender to confirm the contents before you open it. Viruses can also be transmitted via software you download from the Internet, so make sure any software is legitimate and clean before you download it to your computer.
Email transmitted viruses
Copies of virus-laden emails are sent to everyone in your email address book. Recipients unwittingly infect themselves when they open email they think is safe because it comes from a familiar sender. The process then repeats.
Like a virus, a worm is designed to copy itself from one computer to another, but it does so automatically by taking control of features on the computer that can transport files or information. Once you have a worm in your system it can travel alone. Because worms don’t need to travel via a ‘host’ program or file, they can also tunnel into your system and allow somebody else to take control of your computer remotely. When new worms are unleashed, they spread very quickly and can clog networks.
These are programs that appear to be useful, but instead compromise your security. Trojans cannot spread or reproduce by themselves but they can cause a lot of damage to their host computer. Trojans spread when people are lured into opening a program because they think it comes from a legitimate source.
Once your computer has been turned into a ‘zombie’, it will spew out spam emails to hundreds and thousands of people. These emails can cost you a lot of money if you are on a broadband account which charges for uploads and downloads.
This is unwanted software installed on your computer to gather information from your files without your knowledge. It usually enters your computer as a software virus or from the installation of unreputable programs. Unwanted software or spyware may make your computer behave strangely: you may see pop-up advertisements even if you aren’t browsing the Web or your Web browser’s settings may have changed. Spyware may not cause damage to your machine, but will scan for personal and confidential information such as sensitive business information or your credit card details.
Electronic junk mail. More than just annoying, Spam often contains viruses and other nasty material. Spam can be hard to avoid, but installing anti-Spam software is a great start. Many email programs have built-in filters that can help you separate Spam from the email you really want, or you can contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and ask for their help.
Credit & debit card fraud
A crime involving the unauthorised use of your credit or debit card details in order to access funds from your card account. Your card could be compromised if it is lost, stolen, or used for payment on unsecure or fraudulent websites, so it pays to be vigilant about how and where you use and store your cards. ’Skimming’ is another way your card account can be violated – this is when the information contained on a card’s magnetic strip is illegally obtained – usually downloaded by criminals via the Internet – and encoded onto a counterfeit card. A skimmer device can be as small as a pager and can be worn on a person’s belt or situated beside a cash register (think of a tiny EFTPOS machine). One quick swipe is all that’s needed to copy your card’s details.