Scams Awareness Week takes place on 8 to 12 November 2021. The theme for the week is ‘Let’s talk scams’, encouraging everyone to talk to their family and friends about scams to build awareness.
Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia. So far in 2021, there have been 226 107 reports to Australia’s Scamwatch (a body set up by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)).
Unfortunately, there are many types of scams circulating at any one time and scammers use all kinds of sneaky approaches to gain your personal information. Over the past 18 months there have been a number of unscrupulous third parties using the global pandemic to their advantage, pretending to be government agencies providing information on COVID-19 through text messages and emails ‘phishing’ for information.
Small businesses seem to be common targets of false billing scams since they are often busy with limited resources. Further to this, intellectual property rights owners continue to be targeted with fake invoices and renewal notices.
Spotting a fake
Scammers can easily fake an official-looking letter or email and they rely on you letting your guard down when you receive an email from a company or organisation you’ve dealt with before. They may do this by using the same logo and similar design as the real company, however there might be clues that serve as warning signs, such as:
- generic rather than personal greeting;
- poorer quality presentation;
- poorer quality grammar and spelling;
- overly official or forced language; and/or
- stating that urgent payment is required.
What can you do to protect yourself?
1. If you’re not expecting an email, always be alert before clicking on any links or opening any attachments.
2. If you notice a supplier’s usual bank account details have changed, call them to confirm.
3. If you run a business inform all staff about recent scams as busy staff may mistakenly pay an invoice.
3. Take steps to ensure that your brand/s are properly protected through trade mark registrations in the appropriate jurisdictions and through adequate domain name registrations.
4. Report scammers to the relevant organisation in your country, for example in Australia contact the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page.
If you are unsure whether an email relating to your brand, trade mark, domain name or invention is legitimate, please check with your attorney. When in doubt, it is easiest to forward a copy of the suspicious correspondence directly to our general email firstname.lastname@example.org.