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How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling

  • June 16, 2022
  • By 50 Shades
  • 0 Comments
How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling

Over the past few years during the Covid-19 pandemic the amount of people online has increased dramatically. This has been one of the reasons for the escalation of online scams and what is called phishing. This is the fraudulent practice of sending emails or texts purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. So as a safeguard for myself and others, I’ve done some research on how to keep safe online and whilst travelling.

Types of Scams

I have noticed that I’m increasingly getting calls on my mobile phone from unknown numbers and overseas numbers. Many are missed call scams that work by making a very short call to your mobile phone before hanging up. The idea is for you to call back the missed number so that the scammers can charge you at a premium rate. 

I am also receiving text messages about parcel deliveries, Australian Customs, Amazon, and the Australian Taxation Office asking me to click on a link or provide personal information.

My email account has been bombarded lately with invoices from Computer Anti-Virus companies like Geek Squad, McAfee or Norton, demanding renewal and payment. This is despite the fact that I don’t use this software.

How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling
An example of a fake email demanding payment

There are also technical support scams that involve a telephone cold-call, a browser pop-up window on your computer, or a paid search result on search engines like Google. This scam endeavours to trick people into thinking that there is malware or a virus on their computer. They often coerce you into installing a remote access program that lets them control your computer, where they can access all types of personal data, your passwords and more.

Online shopping scams are fake websites that offer “too good to be true” bargains. They are created with the aim of taking your money without delivering the goods. Whilst others use your personal information for identify fraud.

Then probably one of the lowest of low scams, is the love scam, where single people get entrapped into believing a person they have met online is “the love of their life”. They are wooed, given numerous compliments and “love bombed” for weeks or months, before the predator eventually invents some scam to try to extort money from the victim.

Every day someone is coming up with new ways to try to scam us online, and although we’re all trying to fight them off, it is becoming a huge problem.

How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling

Top Scammer Warning Signs to Look out for

Now more than ever, we need to be aware of the signs of phishing and scamming. Here’s the top seven warning signs to look out for:

  1. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.  
  2. Never click on links that look suspicious, particularly those with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. 
  3. If the number is an “unknown number” or from overseas, then there is a good chance it’s phishing. Particularly if after answering the call there is a pause or they hang up.
  4. If someone unknown to you suddenly befriends you on social media on either Facebook or Instagram, there is a good chance that this person is a scammer or hacker.
  5. Do not click on links that are sent to you via social media (even if it is a friend), on Facebook Messenger in particular.
  6. If you do answer a phone call, and there is a pause, then the person at the other end has an accent, there is a good chance it is a scam.
  7. If a potential suitor says they work in a remote location, eg: on an oil rig or are deployed overseas in the military or as a medical practitioner. There is a good chance they are a love scammer. Watch out for “love bombing” techniques they use and then a sudden urgent request for money to help them out of a situation, claiming they can’t access their credit card or bank account.
How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling
There are call centres in India specifically set up to scam people

How to Keep Safe Online

These are my top tips for keeping safe online:

  1. Never give out your passwords, credit card details or bank details via email or SMS.
  2. Call the company or organisation (particularly if it’s your bank), to verify that they were actually trying to get in contact with you. But don’t call the phone number they’ve provided. Check it first before phoning.
  3. Report all non-branded scams directly to ACCC’s ScamWatch.
  4. Forward any suspicious SMS’s or emails from senders claiming to be a particular company, to your mobile phone or email provider.
  5. If you have received a suspicious phone call, report it by calling your mobile phone provider.
  6. If you think you might be impacted financially, call your bank immediately. Change your passwords too.
  7. Ensure your passwords aren’t something easily identifiable, like your birthdate or dogs name. Keep your passwords protected by using one of the password manager apps like Keeper.
  8. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication on your online accounts.
  9. Use secure Wi-Fi. Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or mobile phone while you are connected to them.
  10. Never ever let strangers remotely access your computer, even if they claim to be from a well-known company.
  11. Check your privacy settings and make sure you’re protected from your personal information being made public. On Facebook or Instagram this means setting your privacy settings to the maximum.
  12. Keep all or your devices safe by installing software to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware.
  13. Report any cybercrime incidents to the appropriate authority. In Australia this is the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
  14. Do not share compromising photos to anyone online. Even if they promise they will never use them against you!
How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling

How to Handle a Love Scammer

Be very careful with who you meet up with online these days. There appears to be predators everywhere saying they are looking for love. Within the past 12 months I have been approached on the Words With Friends game, received sleazy messages on Whatsapp, Viber, Google Hangouts, Messenger and Instagram. I have even had a horrid experience with a stalker that befriended me on Instagram who made threats towards me! So be very wary of these types of people.

If a person contacts you via one of these messaging apps look for obvious signs like being overly friendly, having poor english and grammar, giving numerous compliments, love bombing, continually messaging you and proclaiming their love for you after a short period of time.

All these things mean that the predator is priming you for a request for gift cards or money. Generally they will make up an elaborate story as to why they urgently need the money. They will really try to tear at your heartstrings!

Never send a person unknown to you any information or photos that they could then use to blackmail you with. Of course scammers will use every possible angle to try to get your private information so that they can use it against you at some point in time.

If you become involved in an online relationship use your common sense and if you are suspicious of them you can always do a reverse image search on Google or Social Catfish to make sure they are who they say they are. Generally if the person says they can’t talk to you or video call you, because of where they are working, it means they have a fake identity.

If you do suspect someone is a love scammer, block and report them on the messaging app and cease all contact with them. If you have been scammed or blackmailed then you can also report them to the Australian Cyber Security Centre in Australia or to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in USA.

How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling

How to Keep Safe Whilst Travelling

As well as online safety it is even more important to keep safe whilst travelling. My husband had his credit skimmed when we were visiting New York a few years ago. Plus we heard about travellers having money and personal belongings pick-pocketed from them in Italy when we were holidaying there. You need to be alert at all times and take these precautions whilst travelling:

  • Keep your travel plans, including accommodation details, to yourself.
  • Wear a money belt rather than keeping cash in a wallet in your handbag or pocket.
  • Try not to travel at night. Avoid unsafe areas of the cities you visit, especially at night.
  • Ask hotel staff for advice on ‘safe’ versus ‘unsafe’ local areas.
  • Carry with you at all times the contact details of the Australian embassy.
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport and all other important documents in a safe place.
  • Use ATMs during the day, when there are people around.
  • Use credit cards and travellers cheques rather than cash.
  • Do not lose sight of your credit card if you’re paying at a restaurant or similar in an overseas country. Ask for the Eftpos machine to be brought to you so that you can watch the transaction.
  • If you are mugged, don’t fight back. It is better to lose a few dollars or a piece of jewellery than get injured.
  • Avoid incidents such as fights, riots or civil disturbances at all times.
  • Watch out for people trying to assist you with your luggage at train stations.
  • Beware of beggars, particularly Gypsies in some European countries.
  • Watch out for hawkers trying to sell time-share accommodation or similar in some overseas countries.
  • Try to avoid very crowded areas where pick-pockets are prevalent.
  • Don’t look and dress like a tourist. Try to blend in as much as possible so that you’re not a target.
How to Keep Safe Online and Whilst Travelling

Sadly, the world has changed dramatically in this digital age. More and more we are conducting our lives and our businesses online. Which means there are more opportunities for scammers to try to extort information and money from innocent victims. We need to be even more cautious than ever. Please keep safe everyone!

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By 50 Shades, June 16, 2022 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

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