Stop and check: is this for real? - Scams Awareness Week 2018

24 May 2018

Scams Awareness Week runs from 21–25 May 2018. Australians are urged to be on the lookout for threat-based impersonation scams by taking a moment to ‘Stop and check: is this for real?’.

Scams Awareness Week is an initiative of the Scams Awareness Network.

How these scams work

Scammers may pretend to be from a government agency, a well-known company like an energy or telecommunications provider, Australia Post, a bank or police. Their aim is to scare you into parting with your money or personal information and if you don’t, they threaten you with fines, disconnecting your internet, taking you to court, arrest or even deportation.

Scam reports

The categories with the most threat-based impersonation scam reports in 2017 were:

Threats to life, arrest or other

Threats to life, arrest or other involve demands by scammers to pay money that you supposedly owe and threats if you do not cooperate.

Remote access scams

Remote access scams try to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem.

Phishing

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.

Identity theft

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

False billing

False billing scams request you or your business to pay fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies that you did not order.

Key facts from 2017

Tips to protect yourself

  • If you’re contacted unexpectedly and threatened by someone who says they’re from a government agency or trusted business, always consider the possibility that it may be a scam – then stop and check if it’s for real.
  • Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller and don’t respond to threatening emails or voicemail messages asking you to call someone back. If you do, the scammers may increase their intimidation and attempts to get your money.

  • If you’re unsure whether a call or email is genuine, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source, such as a phone book or online search, then get in touch with them to ask if they contacted you. Don’t use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message they sent to you.

  • If you’re still unsure, speak to a family member or friend about what's happened.

  • Never give money, bank account or credit card details or other personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust – and never by email or over the phone.

  • A government agency or trusted business will never ask you to pay by unusual methods such as with gift or store cards, iTunes cards, wire transfers or bitcoin.

  • Don’t open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails and don’t click on links or open attachments – just delete them.

  • Never give anyone remote access to your computer if you’re contacted out of the blue – whether through a phone call, pop up window or email – and even if they claim to be from a well-known company like Telstra.

Resources

  • Targeting scams: report of the ACCC on scams activity 2017. This report explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community. It highlights the cooperative work of the ACCC, other regulators and law enforcement agencies to disrupt scams and educate consumers.
  • Scam statistics. Get the latest scams data from this resource that illustrates the prevalence and impact of scams. The statistics can be filtered by scam type, month and year, allowing you to track trends in scam activity.
  • The little black book of scams. This ACCC publication can help you learn more about scams including the most common scams to watch out for, the different ways scammers can contact you, the tools scammers use to trick you and the warning signs to look out for..

Infographic

This infographic provides a snapshot of key trends in scam activity from the 2017 Targeting scams report.

Key aspects of the Targeting Scams Report

Media release

Australians lost $340 million to scammers in 2017

Our partners

Scamwatch and the Scams Awareness Network would like to acknowledge the assistance of our government, business, and community group partners for the 2018 Scams Awareness Week campaign.

Airbnb Microsoft
AMES Australia Moneygram
ANZ National Australia Bank
Association of Independent Retirees National Online Retailers Association (NORA)
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) Neighbourhood Watch Victoria

Australian Council of Social Services

NSW Seniors Card program
Australian Gaming Council Origin
Australian Library and Information Association PayPal
Australian Retailers Association Qantas
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Restaurant & Catering Australia
Commonwealth Bank of Australia RSL Victoria
Communications Alliance RSVP / Oasis
Consumer Action SA Seniors Card program
COTA ACT SEEK
COTA WA South Australia Police
Customer Owned Banking Association Suncorp
eHarmony Telstra
Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW The Senior
Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria Twitter
Financial Ombudsman Service Victoria Police
Gold Coast Retirees Victorian Seniors Card program
Google WA Seniors Card Program
MGA Independent Retailers Western Union
  Westpac

More information

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Where to get help