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Beware of phone and internet scams impersonating Home Affairs

Be aware of scammers who impersonate the Department of Home Affairs by phoning on their behalf or copying one of their websites.

We are aware of a current scam where people are receiving a phone call with an automated voice claiming to be from the Department of Home Affairs. The voice tells them that ‘a warrant is out for their arrest.’ This is a scam. You should never give out personal details to a scammer. Make sure you always check that any government website link contains ‘.gov.au’ at the end. You should only provide financial and identity information such as passport details on secure websites.

Your personal information

Personal information is any information or combination of information that enables an individual to be identified. Personal information is used by many businesses for legitimate communication. However, this is not always the case and some personal information can be misused by criminals or used inappropriately by marketers.

Your personal information may include your:

  • full name
  • passport details
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • school
  • date of birth
  • email address
  • usernames and passwords
  • bank details.

Setting strong passwords

To set a strong password, select it carefully. Security experts now recommend using a ‘pass phrase’ rather than simply a password. The phrase should be relatively long — perhaps 20 characters or so — and consist of seemingly random words strung together along with numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters. 

To create a pass phrase, think of something that you can remember but others cannot guess such as BlueChocololate#239TriumphFi$h. 

How can I protect my personal information?

It is important to understand how personal information is used online and how to protect your information and digital reputation.

Tips for protecting your personal information online:

Only disclose financial information on secure websites. Look for an address beginning with https:// and a ‘locked’ padlock symbol next to the URL or at the base of your browser window, which indicates that data is being encrypted

If in doubt about the legitimacy of a website, call the organisation it claims to represent. The Scamwatch website provides further advice on how to identify and report potential scams.

Banking institutions will never email individuals asking for their user name or password. If you receive an email by an organisation claiming to represent a banking institution report the email to the bank and Scamwatch. Do not respond and do not click on any links provided.

Read user agreements and privacy policies. Many organisations use information for marketing purposes and may sell it to other marketing firms. If you do post information on a website that sells information to marketers, you may receive promotional spam emails which can be difficult to stop.

Understand that information shared online can be permanent — you may not have control over who sees or accesses your personal information. This includes teachers, parents and prospective employers.

How can I reduce the amount of spam I receive?

Reduce spam by protecting your personal details. Spam can be reduced by:

  • limiting disclosure of email addresses and mobile numbers
  • installing and using spam filtering software
  • checking the terms and conditions when purchasing products, entering competitions or registering for services or email newsletters
  • not allowing contact details to be used for marketing purposes (making sure you check the opt out box)
  • boosting online security to limit spam.

Sources: homeaffairs.gov.au, esafety.gov.au.

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