Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
The purpose of Scamwatch is to help you recognise scams and avoid them.
The ACCC works with state and territory consumer protection agencies and other government agencies to promote awareness in the community about scams. The ACCC coordinates the Scams Awareness Network (SAN) which collaboratively delivers the annual National Scams Awareness Week campaign. The ACCC's role extends beyond preventing scams and includes other areas of consumer protection, infrastructure regulation, cartels and other forms of anti-competitive conduct.
The ACCC does not give legal advice and is unable to offer assistance in individual cases or to investigate each scam reported to us.
Reporting a scam
The ACCC and Scamwatch team greatly appreciate your contribution to the collection of scam-related data. This information is used to keep Australians informed about the latest scams in circulation.
Your report is important to the ACCC as this information assists us in monitoring scam trends and taking action where appropriate, including working with industry and looking for innovative ways to disrupt scams.
When you make a report, a record will be kept and you may be contacted by the ACCC if any further information is required. The ACCC doesn’t respond to reports made via the Scamwatch Report a scam form due to the high volume received.
Scam disruption project
The scam disruption project involved the ACCC working with the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (now known as the SAN), including state and territory police and consumer affairs agencies, to alert at-risk individuals to the possibility of being a victim of fraud. The project used financial intelligence to identify Australians sending funds to high risk destinations and advising them they may have been targeted by a scam.
The scam disruption project concluded in August 2017, however if you received a letter from us we still invite you to contact us on the number provided.
Our investigators offer confidential advice and use their experience to help you decide if you or someone you know may be at risk.
Targeting scams report
The ACCC produces Targeting scams: report on scam activity annually. The report explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community. It also illustrates the collaborative work of the ACCC, other regulators and law enforcement agencies to disrupt scams and educate consumers.
See: Targeting scams: report on scam activity
Enforcing the law
Many scams, if tested in court, may be breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). However, due to the ‘fly by night’ nature of many scammers, it is extremely difficult for law enforcement agencies to track them down and take action against them. This is further complicated by the fact that most scammers are based overseas.
It's also possible the situation you're dealing with may not be a scam, but a transaction with a legitimate business, which is covered by the ACL. Check out the ACCC website for more information about consumer rights.
Some scams may also be criminal offences. Someone who commits fraud has acted dishonestly or by omission to deliberately deceive someone. Fraud is regulated under various acts, including state and territory criminal legislation and under Australia’s common law. There can be overlap between misleading and deceptive conduct under the consumer protection laws, fraud and other criminal laws.
Where an actual crime has been committed, you may wish to contact your local police, or report it to ReportCyber if the crime has taken place online. ReportCyber helps law enforcement to better combat the growing threat of cybercrime in Australia. Common types of cybercrime include hacking, scams, fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited content.
Right to take private action
A consumer may be able to bring a private action in the Federal Court or in a state or territory Supreme Court. If the action is successful, the remedies sought could include damages, injunctions and other orders.