Google will allow organisations to slap their brands on emails sent through Gmail in a new security push designed to curb fraudsters impersonating businesses and government bodies.
The new feature — called Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) — will allow organisations which authenticate their emails to transmit their logo in the avatar circles of emails they send.
It’s hoped the avatars will boost confidence among email users that they’re dealing with legitimate business partners and governmental organisations, amid rising rates of impersonation scams.
It comes as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) tracks a worrying rise in impersonation fraud, particularly of government bodies.
The ACCC said earlier this week that more than 7,100 reports had been made about government impersonation scams so far this year, with an estimated $1.26 million lost.
Fraudsters are impersonating the ATO or myGov have been targeting messaging around COVID-19 programs such as early access to superannuation.
“Scammers are increasingly taking advantage of the financial difficulties and uncertainty generated from the COVID-19 pandemic to trick unsuspecting Australians,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said in a statement.
A whopping 2,389 reports of ATO impersonation scams have cost Australians more than $905,000 so far this year, but actual losses are expected to be much higher because of under-reporting.
The ACCC said scammers are primarily using phishing and fake government threats to trick people into transferring them money.
“Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller and take your time to consider who you might be dealing with,” Rickard said.
“Government departments will never threaten you with immediate arrest or ask for payment by unusual methods such as gift cards, iTunes vouchers or bank transfers.”
Phishing scams picked up by the ACCC recently involve scammers sending text messages or emails pretending to be from government departments such as Services Australia, before requesting personal details from unsuspecting Aussies.
“Don’t click on any hyperlinks in texts or emails to reach a government website, always type the address into the browser yourself,” Rickard said.
“Do not respond to texts or emails as the scammer will escalate their attempts to get your money.”