Cyber Scams – the top four scams in 2020 you need to know about…

This month we’re covering cyber safety and other issues that arise from doing business in a digitally dominant world.

A costly mistake that employees AND owners can make, is falling victim to savvy, deceptive, and convincingly real scams online.

Employees (especially in accounts, financial management or accounting) can cost businesses thousands of dollars in business cyber scams, accidentally paying bogus invoices and false instalments.

Here are four things to watch out for when it comes to cyber scams.

1. The false invoice.

Scammers can hack into email databases and harvest your information to create very convincing requests for money from places you’ve recently frequented or a service you’ve signed up for.

For example, say your business recently visited Toronto in Canada for a conference that had a range of expenses. You stayed at The “Starseed Hotel” there, and left your contact details at the time of booking.

A hacker has hacked the hotel’s database and looked up all accounts for people who have stayed there in the last month.

They then set up a false email account claiming to be the hotel, with an outstanding invoice for expenses accrued during your stay, and send an invoice for a small to medium amount ($100 – 500).

To protect yourself from this, always track expenses, and if something doesn’t seem right, contact the business to follow up on the invoice.

2. The ATO scam

Although many ATO scam has been around for a while now, they are becoming smoother and more convincing in nature.

The most common one involves either an email or a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office, saying you have a tax debt outstanding and if you don’t pay straight away, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.

This is a scare-tactic form of scam has cost businesses thousands of dollars every year.

To get an up to date list of current ATO scams, click here.

3. Credit Chargeback scams

Another common scam is credit chargebacks.

Usually posing as a phone company you use, internet server, a bank, Government organisation or the ATO, an email or text message is sent claiming you have a credit of a certain amount of money.

It will then prompt you to click on a link or fill out personal details that will enable a scammer to use those details to steal money.

Once they have your details, they can scam you. The giveaway in this above scam example – although extremely convincing, is the spelling error at the bottom of the email.

4. The ol’ Prince of Nigeria trickster…

Of course – there are pretty obvious and ludicrous scams out there you spot a mile away that involve giving your bank details or paying a small amount to a random email (claiming to be a Nigerian prince and you’re the apparent sole inheritor to a small island… or you’ve won $17, 482, 992 in a lottery in the UK), however, our point is there are many scams that aren’t so obvious.

A couple of things you can do to protect yourself include:

  • Don’t open any suspicious links in emails where Google or your browser flag something as potentially dangerous
  • Check if an email is coming from a legitimate business or a Gmail / personal account
  • Don’t provide any credit card details through insecure networks or unknown links
  • Educate your staff on identifying fraudulent emails or scams
  • A quick phone call to a business or company claiming you owe money can quickly identify if it’s indeed legitimate or a scam. Most big organisations are savvy to such scammers and will report it on their systems.
  • Look for poor grammar, spelling errors or unbelievable names, aliases or business names in their communication.

Protect your business from scams through ongoing training and keeping up to date with trends in scams.


For more information on how you can protect your business, email us directly at to organise a one-on-one consultation.