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Phishing is a technique used to gain personal information for purposes of identity fraud, using fraudulent email messages that appear to come from legitimate business, most commonly from banks. These authentic-looking messages are designed to lure you into divulging personal data such as account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.

Phishing emails often copy the institution’s logo and message format. It is common for phishing emails to contain links to a website that is a convincing replica of the company’s home page.

They often try to instil a feeling of urgency by claiming:

  • your account will be closed down unless you log on.
  • a recent security upgrade means that you have to log on to be protected.
  • a large sum has been debited to your account and you need to provide you account details to confirm that the charge is correct.

To protect against phishing:

  • Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spam software is up-to-date.
  • Never respond to it. Delete it immediately.
  • Do not use links in emails or web pages. Independently check the web address and type it in or bookmark it as a “favourite” on your computer.
  • Change your electronic banking password regularly and do not set your computer so it automatically saves your password.
  • If you are uncertain about whether the email is a scam, contact your bank or financial institution. Do not use any telephone number provided because it could be bogus or lead to you incurring more cost.
  • If you think you have fallen for a phishing scam, contact your financial institution immediately.

For more information, check out the Australian High Tech Crime Centre's website at www.ahtcc.gov.au.