Online banking and buying have increased during the coronavirus pandemic as people limit trips outside the home.

The rise of online transactions* has been seen for many years, as more Australians choose to manage their money at home and on the go, but COVID-19 has seen people step up their use of the technology in recent months.

While this offers more convenience and has helped restrict the spread of the virus, it has also created an opportunity for scammers who use clever tricks to try to steal people’s money online.

Australians lost more than $634 million to scams in 2019, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Targeting Scams Report.

The most common tricks include email, phone call and SMS scams that deceive* someone into handing over banking and other personal details. Scammers can also use malicious* software* to infect a computer and steal the owner’s data.

Banks use the latest technology to help keep their customers’ information and money safe from fraud* and theft. But individuals also need to play their part to protect themselves from becoming a victim of a scam.

“COVID-19 has changed the way we bank, with more Australians choosing to bank online and use apps and digital wallets to pay with their phones,” said Westpac director of digital security Josh Nast.

“With people spending more time online, there is an opportunity for scammers and fraudsters to take advantage of vulnerable* people.

“Banks like Westpac work hard to protect your money using the latest technology, and teams of experts work around the clock to monitor accounts. But it’s important that you also take steps to protect yourself to stay safe online.”

Mr Nast said one of the best ways to protect yourself was to “stay up to date with the different types of scams commonly circulating”.

These are regularly reported on and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ScamWatch website.