Online security

The internet can be convenient for our day to day banking and shopping needs, but we need to be smart about how we use our personal and financial information.

Teaching children basic security skills is important, particularly as they get older and start making their own purchases, or using online banking. 

In this section we’ll look at the challenges around online security and how to manage these, including:

  • Banking
  • Shopping

Online banking

There’s no denying the convenience of online banking. You can make transactions or check your account balance when it suits you from anywhere in the world, not just when your local branch is open.

Many banks now have ‘mobile banking’ which allows you to access your bank account through an app. Some banks also have ‘tap and pay’ or ‘tap and go’ features you can enable on your smartphone.

You need to protect your smartphone or mobile device just as you would your home computer or laptop.

What are some of the challenges with online banking?

Here are some common ways criminals might try and get your personal or financial information.

  • Hoax messages: You might receive emails, text messages or internet popups that direct you to fake websites that ask you to reveal personal information
  • Malware: You may inadvertently download software that can monitor what sites you visit and record your keystrokes, including passwords, logons or other personal information
  • Fake phone surveys: You may receive unsolicited  phone calls designed to trick you into revealing personal information
  • Website scams: You may receive offers that appear to be “too good to be true‟ a social networking site where friends and families share information

What can I do to prevent becoming a victim of online banking fraud?

You can avoid becoming a victim by knowing how to protect your personal and financial information.

ThinkUKnow’s top tips for keeping your information safe:

  • Lock your  smartphone with a pin, and make it hard for others to guess it. Your birth date may not be a good idea
  • Log out of your account or app  when you have finished banking
  • Only use official apps
  • Install anti-virus software on your devices and make sure your systems are up to date. Check out our page on ‘protecting your devices’ for more information on this.
  • Use a strong password and keep it private!
  • Read the privacy policy for any site you provide personal information
  • Report any suspicious activity to your banking or financial institution immediately.

We also developed a factsheet with the Australian Bankers Association on banking scams – check it out.

Online shopping

While it’s great that we can purchase goods anywhere at the touch of button, it also means we need to be aware of the risks of sharing certain information online.

Here’s ThinkUKnow’s top tips for online shopping

  • Shop at secure websites - A secure website can be identified by “https” or a padlock symbol at the start of the web address. These websites encrypt information being transferred from your computer to another, better protecting your personal information.
  • Research the company before making a purchase - Reputable companies should provide details of their physical location and contact details, including a phone number. If you are unsure how legitimate a business is, call them and ask questions.
  • Read the purchase policies - Check terms and conditions including delivery costs, return policies, warranty, complaints processes and cancelling an order. Read the privacy policy to find out how the company will use any personal information you provide.
  • Use a safe method of payment - Regularly check your credit card statements and contact your bank or financial institution immediately if you notice an irregular transaction. Consider using a separate credit card with a low limit specifically for online transactions.
  • Think about what personal information you share - Businesses may sometimes request personal information that is not required to complete a transaction. Never share any personal information by email as it is not secure.
  • Save a copy of the transaction information - Keep a record of all transaction information, including name of the site, order confirmation or invoice, as well as any correspondence you have with the business.
  • Be wary of heavily discounted goods or services - Don’t be fooled by vastly discounted goods or cheap deals on services such as holidays and airfares. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.


Scams are not unique to the internet. 

Online scams may intend to defraud you of money or attempt to steal your personal details.

Scams are most commonly received through email.

Did you know that in 2015, 30 per cent of scams reported to Scamwatch were sent via email?

Criminals send out millions of fraudulent spam emails to random email addresses in the hope of enticing someone to respond.

While new scams pop up all the time, there are some common types which do the rounds over and over. Some examples include unexpected money or winnings, fake charities, dating and romance scams, or the buying and selling of illegitimate products.

While scams can happen anywhere online, a good way to ensure you never fall victim is to never send your personal information to someone you don’t know, and don’t click on suspicious links.

Here’s some scams to look out for:

Unexpected money

Scammers sometimes try to let you think you have won a large amount of money. Always think twice before you click on a link. Sometimes, some things are just sound too good to be true! Always be on the lookout for suspicious links!

Unexpected winnings

Scammers sometimes try to convince you that you have won an pretty great prize, such as a new computer or a trip overseas. The scammers try to trick you into giving money or your personal details in exchange for the winnings.

Fake charities

Sometimes scammers can impersonate genuine charities. When giving to charities, make sure you make official donations on their website or at charity events.

Fake websites or emails

Sometimes scammers will set up fake websites to trick us all into believing it is a real website. Sometimes, they can even try and fake your own bank’s website. Always make sure you type in the web address, and check that the website is secure by making sure the website is secure. A secure website will start like this: ‘https’. Never click on links to websites from emails or other websites that you are unsure about.

ThinkUKnow’s top tips

  • Read the terms and conditions carefully before agreeing to any offer
  • Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly
  • Don’t open emails from people you don’t know
  • Use spam filtering software available from your email account provider
  • Do not give out your email address or mobile phone number unless you know how that information will be used
  • If you receive a suspicious email delete it immediately, do not follow any links or reply to the sender
  • If you haven’t heard of the website or company before, do some quick research.
  • Ensure websites you are using begin with https, or have a padlock symbol.
  • Be aware of what information you are giving out when you are purchasing an item online. Does this website really need your birth date?
  • Ensure all of the security features and anti-virus on your devices have been updated.
  • Never click on suspicious links on social networking sites or in your email inbox — even if they are from your friends.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts, especially those which contain banking details. Use at least 8 characters, upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • And remember — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

What can I do if I’ve been scammed?

If you believe you are a victim of an online scam and you have lost money, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

To report a scam, visit our reporting page.

For more information, check out these sites: