PMB: Online Safety

02 March 2020

(17:37):  When I was first elected, I would arrive in Canberra on a Sunday afternoon and head straight to the supermarket to get the groceries for the week. And if you've ever been down to Woolies on a Sunday afternoon, it can often be a chaotic place, with everyone getting school lunches and things organised for Monday morning. So, this year we've started ordering online the night before. That means we can jump on the app and add all the usual things we'd use in our office over the week. It usually takes a lot longer than that to pick them up at the grocery store on a Sunday. Then, instead of spending all that time, spend just five minutes on a Sunday and then run in and grab the bags. It is that simple.

This isn't a how-to for online grocery shopping. It's an example of how technology is truly making mundane tasks much simpler and easier. Australians are becoming more connected than ever, and with this rapid growth comes the necessity to keep safe online. When I head out for mobile offices around my electorate, I take the eSafety Commissioner's Little Black Book of Scams, because I rarely speak to someone who hasn't been a victim or come close, or who knows someone who has. In 2020 alone, Australians have lost over $7 million through online scams. That's $7 million down the drain to a criminal on the end of a computer.

The most common scams are for dodgy investments, followed by dating and romance, and then scams involving threats to life. Shockingly, Australians over 55 are falling victim to financial scams more than any other age group in Australia, accounting for more than half of the financial loss. That's a $7 million figure this year alone—and I don't need to remind you that we've just kicked off March, so it's a lot of money that Australians are losing to these criminal scammers. They are so professional these days. I have to tell you I often get a text and I think, 'Is that real?' If you're in doubt, just delete it. They're becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get our money or, more importantly, our personal details. Honestly, we need to be so alert to protect ourselves by knowing the signs and knowing what to do about them.

Here are a few tips. Don't open suspicious texts. If you get a text that looks really suspicious, just delete it. Don't even open it. This includes pop-up windows, click-on links or attachments in emails. Delete them. If you're unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as an online search or even a phone book, if you've still got one. Don't respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access. Hang up, even if they mention a well-known company such as Telstra. Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus which will give them access to your passwords and your personal details. Please choose your passwords carefully. I know passwords can be tricky to remember, but new technology allows scammers to scan through thousands of passwords in a minute. If your password is '123456', I would strongly urge you to change it.

E-safety week has recently been upon us. Of course, one of the most concerning things about our connected community is the risk that it poses to our children. We all know kids are more connected than ever. As I'm sure my colleague the member for Hindmarsh will attest—he's got some grandchildren—

Mr Georganas:  Adelaide.

Ms SWANSON:  Adelaide—I've got to get that through my head. Young people are some of the most switched-on and connected, but they are still vulnerable. Last month, on 11 February, we celebrated Safer Internet Day, which was promoted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. This was a day to talk about how to stay safe online in our communities and how to help protect our kids in this new digital world. As the parent of a 16-year-old, of course I'm always worried about her and her digital reputation. She's so savvy. Thankfully, she's very switched-on. But there are just so many traps and pitfalls for young people these days. So my advice to any parent or young person is: just be cautious and, if you don't want your grandmother to find out about it or you don't want it on the front page of a newspaper, don't put it online. That's my advice, Adelaide Swanson, from your mother.

In conclusion, as we race to grab the newest technologies with the fastest download speeds, we must do our bit to educate our children, ourselves and our older Australians so that we can stay safe. Stay safe online, Australia.