Red Flags That Might Indicate You’re Getting Scammed Online

Red Flags That Might Indicate You’re Getting Scammed Online
Image: iStock / AlbertPego

This article is sponsored by Westpac.

Even the most clued-in people can fall victim to online scams.

It doesn’t matter how secure you think your passwords or personal details are, scammers are continually finding new ways to steal information.

To be extra careful online, here are a few red flags to watch out for.

Online phishing

I’m sure all of us have experienced that message or email from a well-known company asking you to click on a link or give them oddly specific information.

A seemingly reputable company asking you to send over your bank details or other private information is likely a scam, so always check the sender’s actual email address (usually it will be a few characters different to the legitimate company) and call the real company’s customer service to cross-check.

Dodgy sellers/buyers

Always try to avoid trading payment details on sites that don’t have a reputable history, but even on legitimate sites, buyers and sellers can still turn out to be shady.

If you’re selling items online, be wary of external emails confirming a payment has been made — always check the actual site or your bank account for updates. If you’re buying online, watch out for fake websites (check for signs like a misspelled URL) and sellers asking you to pay them through unusual methods such as a money order or wire transfer, as this could lead to your money or details being stolen.

Westpac’s Head of Fraud, Ben Young, recommends a few ways to safeguard your hard-earned cash from scam and fraud: “Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself, like regularly changing your passwords, installing cybersecurity software, and using a Digital Card like Westpac’s when shopping online, which has a dynamic CVC that changes every 24 hours. This makes it harder for fraudsters to steal and use your card details online.

Romance scams

Stumbling across an online profile that seems a little too good to be true could indicate a big old romance scam.

A scammer aims to gain your trust by lulling you into a false sense of security with compliments or an admission of strong feelings before sending requests for money, your details or suspicious requests.

Look out for signs of this “love interest” trying to move the conversation to another messaging platform, asking for weird requests or asking you to transport a package for them — all of these are red flags.

Prize scams

Although seemingly self-explanatory, many people are still lured in by the potential to win a prize. Simply put, if you get told you won something for a competition you never entered, don’t click the link and definitely don’t give your details away.

A good blanket rule for all of the above scams and countless others is to simply not engage with anything that doesn’t appear completely and utterly legitimate.

If you’re making transactions online, use a secure payment service and look for legitimate URL’s starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock icon.

“If you think you might have fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately,” Ben suggests. “This is especially important if you’ve sent money, shared passwords, security codes or any other personal information.”

“You can also get in touch with Scamwatch or IDCARE’s cyber-service which offer fantastic support.”

Any advice within this sponsored article is general in nature only. Read the terms and conditions at and consider if it is right for you.

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