From cold calling scams promising incredible investment returns, to more sophisticated calls or text messages, to consumers' fixed line and mobile phones, we all need to be aware that we can be targeted by unscrupulous people and we need to be able to protect ourselves from often ingenious scams.

Protect your phone

1. Be suspicious of unexpected calls and text messages

Before replying to calls or text messages, remember to check the number. If you make a call or return a call using a '190' number you will generally be charged at a higher rate than a local call. If you receive a text message from a '19' number you will generally be charged at a higher rate than a standard text message and you could also be charged for messages you receive and those you send in reply.

2. Hang up. Or text 'STOP' to unwanted messages

If you receive a call with an offer that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is—so hang up. If you receive a text message containing no more than a person's first name or containing a greeting from a person you don't know (e.g. 'Hi I'm back'), check the number before you reply to make sure you won't be charged at a premium rate. A text message with a number that begins with '19' is generally charged at a higher rate than a standard text message. Text the word 'STOP' for any service you don't want that uses a '19' number.

3. Don’t give out your number to just anyone

Be careful when giving your phone number to a caller you don't know, even if they claim to be from a reputable organisation. Ask them why they need your number and what will they use it for. Look out for terms and conditions which permit the organisation to give your number to any other company and tell them you don't want your information given out to anyone else. Also think about using the facility on your phone to block your phone number when you make calls. Contact your phone company for advice on how to block your phone number.

Learn more about the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce or report a scam via the SCAMwatch Report a scam page.

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Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's identity to steal money or gain other benefits.