How to stay safe online
As you learn from home during Trimester 2, one of your main priorities should be ensuring your online safety. To make sure that the time you spend online is positive and enjoyable, it’s so important to protect yourself from cybercriminals, scams and online bullying.
What kind of scams are out there?
Scamwatch, which provides information to Australian consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams, identifies some of the most common types of scams, which include:
- Current COVID-19 scams – during emergencies or natural disasters, it’s common to see an increase in cybercriminal activity that targets particular groups.
- Attempts to gain personal information – stealing personal details for fraudulent activities.
- Dating and romance – using people’s emotions to obtain money, gifts or personal details.
- Fake charities – impersonating genuine charities to ask for donations, especially during emergencies or disasters.
- Threats and extortion – making threats or hijacking a computer.
- Unexpected money – using get-rich-quick schemes that rely on false hope to steal personal information.
- Unexpected winnings – luring people into giving money or information for a non-existent competition or lottery.
Students can be a common target for scammers. Please be especially wary of any unsolicited or unexpected communications you receive – these can be sophisticated and look legitimate. Recent examples include:
- scammers posing as representatives of Deakin or the police and asking for large sums of money
- international students receiving digital communications/letters warning of visa cancellation and/or extradition unless they supply personal details, certifications and/or money.
How can I protect myself from scams?
- If you receive a University-related email you’re unsure about – whether it’s from someone you don’t know, the details appear incorrect or the email address looks odd – do not click on any links or attachments. Immediately report the email to Deakin’s cybersecurity team via the ‘Phish Alert’ button in your Outlook window. If you’re not using your Deakin email address in Outlook, forward the email to [email protected].
- Be cautious about any unsolicited digital communications that requests personal information or money. Deakin will never contact students directly, or through agents in China, to ask you for money. The police will also never ask someone to pay money in exchange for a guarantee of not prosecuting them in Australia.
- Never give your bank details or money to people you don’t know or for reasons you’re unclear about. This includes your personal, credit card or online account details. If you think your accounts have been accessed illegally, contact your financial institution immediately for advice.
- Be aware of the messages you receive via email, text and social media. If you get junk or spam emails or messages, simply ignore and delete them.
- Be wary of any email with a coronavirus-related subject line, attachment or hyperlink, and of social media pleas, texts or calls related to COVID-19.
- If you want to make a charity donation, go directly to the charity website of your choice to submit your payment. Type the charity’s web address in your browser instead of clicking on any links in emails or other messages.
- Look out for requests for payment in unusual methods such as bitcoin – this is a common indicator of dodgy activity.
- Don’t respond straight away, especially if you’re feeling panicked. Always stop to think about a request before you open an email, click or download a link, provide personal information or give money.
Learn more about the latest online threats and scams at Deakin’s cybersecurity blog.
What if I’m being bullied online?
Cyberbullying is defined as ‘bullying that is done through the use of technology’. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, it can take a range of forms, including:
- sending hurtful or abusive text messages or social media posts
- distributing photos or videos intended to hurt or embarrass
- spreading rumours via email/SMS or on social networks
- setting up fake profiles or posting from someone else’s accounts.
A cyberbully may be someone you know or they may be a stranger, and unfortunately it is quite common, especially among young people.
Cyberbullying can be incredibly hurtful and stressful, and can affect all areas of your life, including your study. It’s also hard to escape when the technology is ever-present.
Read more about how to be safe from online bullies, how to report cyberbullying if you’re under 18 or how to manage abuse if you’re an adult.
You can also find out more about online dos and don’ts, and how to call out abuse if you see it.
Where can I go for help?
- If you ever feel unsafe, contact Victoria Police by calling Triple Zero (000) for emergency help.
- Contact Deakin’s Safer Community service if you want to report inappropriate or threatening behaviour, or you’re worried about something that doesn’t feel quite right.
- Make a free telehealth appointment to speak with a Deakin counsellor.
- If you think you’ve been targeted by scammers, or you’re unsure about a request to share your personal information, seek free legal advice and advocacy at Deakin or contact our International Student Advisers before you do anything.
- Contact Victims of Crime (1800 819 817) for free information and support to help you manage the effects of crime and to guide you through the legal process.
- Report a crime to Crime Stoppers (1800 333 000).