Don’t assume a person you are dealing with is who they say they are.

Scammers trick you into thinking they are from organisations such as the police, government, banks, and well-known businesses. They can even pretend to be your friend or family member.

Scammers use technology to make their call appear to come from a legitimate phone number. Their texts appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages from an organisation.

On this page

Warning signs it might be a scam

  • You receive a message that asks you to click on a link that takes you to a webpage asking for your username, password, or personal information.  
  • There is an urgent request for action, and you are asked to provide personal details or money quickly.
  • An organisation that you think is real, tells you there has been an unauthorised transaction, or asks you to confirm a payment that you didn’t make.
  • A business asks you to use a different bank account and BSB from the last payment you made.
  • You’re contacted by someone pretending to be from a government department, regulator or law enforcement and they threaten immediate arrest, deportation, or ask you to pay money.
  • You’re asked to transfer money to an account to ‘keep it safe’ or for ‘further investigation’.

Steps you can take to protect yourself

  • Check that a message is real by either:
    • contacting the person or organisation directly using contact details you’ve found yourself on the organisations official website or,
    • accessing the organisations’ secure, authenticated portal or app (never via a link).
  • Immediately cut contact with anyone who tries to threaten or intimidate you.
  • Don’t open or download any attachments or apps as these can install malicious software on to your computer or phone.
  • Watch out for slight variations in Caller or Sender IDs like dots, special characters, or numbers.
  • If someone you know sends a message to say they have a new phone number:
    • try to call them on the existing number you have for them
    • message them on the new number with a question only they would know the answer to. That way you will know if they are who they say they are.
  • Don’t click on links in text messages or emails.
  • Find steps to keep your email secure on eSafety - Australia's independent regulator for online safety.
  • Read more about how to have safer, more positive online experiences on eSafety.

Common impersonation scams

Scammers will pretend to be from trusted government organisations or use brands such as myGov, Service Australia, Centrelink or the Australian Taxation Office to gain your trust.  Sometimes scammers claim to be from international government organisations as Chinese Authority scams.

They try to get your personal information, by contacting you on social media or sending a link in a text message or email.  They may also call and threaten you with immediate arrest, deportation, or other legal action.

Government organisations won’t ever send a text message or email with a link to log onto online services such as myGov.

Scammers can make their calls and text messages appear to come from your bank. They can even send you text messages that appear in the same chain as other genuine messages.

They will come up with a believable story and convince you to take action. They may ask you for personal information or tell you to click a link to verify your account. They may also ask you to make an immediate payment, or transfer money to another account to keep it safe from suspected fraudulent activity.  Clicking these links can install malware on your device.  

Scammers gain access to an organisation’s emails and may pose as a senior member or trusted employee of the organisation to cause harm. Scammers will email clients, customers, and others that deal with the organisation to ask for payments. They will change banking details on legitimate invoices so that payments are sent to scammer accounts instead of to the actual organisation.

Common scams associated with business email compromise include:

  • Invoice fraud
  • Employee impersonation
  • Company impersonation

More information on business email compromise scams is available here.

Scammers can take advantage of people’s goodwill by pretending they are collecting money on behalf of a charity when they are not. They may call, email, or approach you on the street seeking donations for a charity. They may set up fake websites that look like those run by real charities or create totally fake ones.

To confirm you’re dealing with a real charity check here.

Scammers use the image and name of famous people without their permission, to get you to buy their product or invest your money. Scammers choose well-known and respected celebrities that people trust to carry out scams. They set up fake profiles on social media platforms and even create fake news articles about the impersonated celebrity. They will often endorse products, schemes, or investments that are completely fabricated.

Some romance scammers also pretend to be celebrities. 

Scammers send messages pretending to be a family member or a friend desperate for money. They say they have a new phone, and they need you to pay money to help them out of a crisis. Sometimes scammers may even use your family or friend’s real photo making the scam harder to spot.  

Relationship scammers form romantic connections or friendships with their victims, but their goal is to steal money from you.

Their online profile is usually fake, and they target you through dating websites and apps, social media channels and your email address.