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Personalised scams

Personalised scams occur when scammers gather your personal information and use it to specifically target you with a scam. The fact that the scammer knows so much about you may make you think they are legitimate. These scams have become more common in recent years and have taken on a new dimension in the online environment.

Scammers target both individuals and businesses in this manner, leading their victims to believe that they have been specifically selected to receive an offer. In reality scammers will make the same offer to hundreds of other people. They often use the internet to gather personal information, for example through social networking websites and approach victims by phone, SMS, letter, email, fax, or through online networking, dating or chat services and blogs.

Scammers often trawl the internet for your personal details and have also been know to search your mailbox or recycling bin to get hold of discarded personal documents such as bank statements and bills.

The types of details which scammers search for include your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • photos
  • income
  • occupation
  • email address (personal and work)
  • telephone numbers (home, work and mobile)
  • physical address (home, work or postal address)
  • bank account and credit card details
  • social networking account, email account and online banking passwords
  • other personal numbers, such as Tax File Numbers and Medicare numbers
  • upcoming or current travel/holiday plans
  • relatives’ and friends’ names and contact details.

If scammers get hold of any of these details they may use them to pose as a legitimate government representative, a company, or a person you know and trust.

Remember - Your personal details are private and invaluable – keep them that way.

Be aware, in some cases scammers will simply use readily available public information such as your name and phone number from online directories and make educated guesses about you. For example, they may ask if you have a computer or an account with a specific bank – they pretend to know this about you but are simply guessing!

In this section

View information on the following personalised scam types:

These scams play on your generosity and involve a scammer posing as a genuine charity in order to fraudulently collect money.

Classifieds scams can target both buyers and sellers who use online and print classifieds.

Dating and romance scams try to lower your defences by appealing to your romantic or compassionate side. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.

Door-to-door scams involve promoting goods or services that are not delivered or are of a very poor quality.

SCAMwatch is warning Australians to erase their hard drive before parting with old computers and laptops. Simply deleting individual files is not enough to remove personal details, documents and passwords stored on the machine.

Grooming occurs when a scammer tries to build a trusting relationship with you by making regular contact. Groomers use this relationship to extract greater amounts of money and/or sensitive personal and financial information from their victim.

Pharming is when you are redirected to a fake version of a website which may look identical to the website you were trying to view. The scammer will use the fake site to gather your sensitive personal information which they may then use to commit identity fraud.

If you are contacted by a psychic or clairvoyant offering you mystical secrets to wealth, health and luck, be very wary. Do not be fooled by fantastic claims and promises, they may be scams.

Social networking websites allow you to create your own profile and to interact with your friends and other online users. Scammers also use social networking sites to steal personal information and trick people out of their money.

Victim lists are directories of people who have previously responded to an offer or fallen victim to a scam. These lists are created by scammers and contain personal information and contact details. They are compiled for the purpose of approaching those listed with other scams.

Whaling or spear phishing occurs when scammers personally target employees in order to steal confidential business information and money. Scammers send emails about fake business matters aiming to convince their victims to follow a link to a scam website and provide confidential and financial details.

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