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Phishing is the harvesting of your personal information by a third party not authorised to have access to that information. 

The most common example involves the sending of a ‘spoof’ email which states that it’s from a bank, online payment service, internet service provider or even a government department. The email requests the recipient to respond immediately by providing their personal financial information such as a credit card number or bank account personal identification number.

The email may use words like ‘update’, ‘validate’ or ‘confirm’ implying that the sender already has the information. The email may even threaten the recipient that if the information is not provided within a stipulated time the recipient’s account maybe closed, or conversely may offer a valuable prize if the information is provided.

If you receive an email which requests you to provide personal or financial information – do not reply.

Don't use the links in the email to get to any other web page. Instead either telephone your service provider or log on to its website directly by typing its full web address into your browser to seek verification.

Avoid filling out forms online where personal financial information is requested. Only use secure websites or a telephone to transmit sensitive information.

Do regularly check your bank or credit card statements to ensure all transactions were authorised. If you believe that there has been an unauthorised transaction contact your bank or credit provider immediately.

If you suspect that you’ve received such an email, report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on 1300 302 502 or visit the Scamwatch website at

If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, such as hacking, an online scam or fraud, identity theft, an attack on your computer system or if you are aware of illegal or prohibited online content, you can report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) on their website. ACORN will make sure your report goes to the right law enforcement or government agency for consideration.