Australians who use the internet to buy goods from overseas should be wary of fake emails asking them to pay 'Customs' a range of fees, duty or taxes before their goods are released to them.

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs and Border Protection) has told SCAMwatch that a number of online shoppers have been tricked by emails advising them that the goods they have purchased were being held by 'Customs'. The email states that in order for the purchaser to receive their goods, 'Customs' required payment of duty, GST and/or taxes.

Certain goods brought into Australia do require an import permit, and Customs and Border Protection Service may detain such goods pending presentation of the permit. Where goods are detained for permit purposes, you will receive written advice directly by mail from Customs and Border Protection.

Customs and Border Protection has advised SCAMwatch that it will NEVER contact Australians via email stating that it requires the payment of duty, GST and/or other charges in order for the purchaser to receive their goods.

Phishing scams are all about tricking people into giving out their personal and banking details to scammers. The emails you receive might look and sound legitimate, but in reality genuine organisations like Customs and Border Protection or a bank will never ask you to send your details via email.

  • If you receive a suspicious email, your best defence is to delete the email straight away.
  • Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
  • Do not click on any links in a spam email or open any files attached to them. Never call a telephone number that you see in a spam email.

Learn more about phishing scams and how you can protect yourself from spam emails.

To find out more about import regulations and processes and buying goods over the internet, visit the Customs and Border Protection website ( or contact the Customs Information and Support Centre on 1300 363 263.

To report a suspected scam, visit the SCAMwatch Report a scam page.

You can report spam emails to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

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Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out your personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.