Scams & warnings

Keep your money safe

""Scammers work in clever ways to convince you to give them your money. They might approach you in person, over the phone, through the mail or via email. 

Fake bank/phishing scams


These scams come by email and look like they are from your bank, credit card company or mobile phone company. The email usually asks you to send your account details, and sometimes your PIN, by return email or through a website. This is called 'phishing' as the scammer is 'fishing' for information.

Don't give out any personal information over the internet or over the phone. Your bank will never email or phone you to ask for your PIN or security details. Always keep your PIN and security details a secret.

More information on requests for account information (phishing).

Video: How scams work

Video about scams.

This ACCC video shows you how to look out for scams and outsmart the scammers.

Transcript: How scams work

Identity fraud

Identity fraud is a type of fraud that involves the theft of your personal information including your name, date of birth, address and other details. Fraudsters then use this information to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, start an illegal business or apply for a passport. Your details may also be used to commit serious crimes, such as money laundering and even terrorist acts.

How to protect yourself:

  • Never give your personal details to people you don't know. If you receive a call from someone who claims to be from your bank or any other organisation, don't give them your details. Call the organisation in question to check it is really them calling. Never click on a link or call a phone number in an email - use a phone directory to look up the correct number.
  • Check your bank and superannuation statements. If you see any unusual transactions, contact your bank, credit card provider or super fund immediately.
  • Destroy personal information. Shred or cut up your bills, statements and expired cards to prevent thieves from using them.
  • Lock your letter box. Secure your letter box with a lock and collect your mail regularly.
  • Make your passwords hard to guess. Use a combination of numbers and letters and change your passwords frequently.

For more information see identity fraud.

Door-to-door scams

These scams are when someone comes to your house offering to sell you something. If the salesperson pressures you to buy, you should ask them for documents about the product and tell them you'll think about it. Don't be pressured into buying anything. See door-to-door sales for more information.

Early release of super

Some scammers encourage people to roll their super into a self-managed super fund (SMSF) so they can access their super money early to pay off their debts. This is illegal. If you do this you could lose your hard-earned super savings, and may also have to pay tax penalties. If you receive an offer to access your super through an illegal scheme, contact ASIC's Indigenous Help Line on 1300 365 957 or ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630 or the Australian Taxation Office on 13 10 30.

More information on superannuation scams and getting superannuation.

Investment scams

If you get a phone call, email or letter from a stranger asking if you would like to invest in a company, it could be a scam. Scammers often make the company look 'real' - there may be a website and documents that look official but are completely fake.

If someone offers you an investment over the phone, ask the person these questions:

  • What is your name and what company do you represent?
  • Who owns your company?
  • Does your company have an Australian Financial Services licence and what is the licence number?
  • What is your address?

If they try to avoid answering these questions, it is probably a scam. Hang up the phone, do not respond to the email or stop dealing with the person.

Check our list of companies you should not deal with that aren't licenced by ASIC. You can also check ASIC Connect's Professional Registers for a list of companies that hold an AFS Licence. Find out what an AFS Licence means.

Never agree to anything without checking the company first. If you are unsure, ring ASIC's Indigenous Hotline on 1300 365 957 or ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630.

More information on investment scams.

How to recognise a scam

  • It looks like the real thing but isn't -  It can be hard to tell what is the real deal and what isn't. Scammers often use glossy brochures or logos from legitimate banks.
  • The reward seems too good to be true - Scammers target people who might be struggling a bit with their money by telling them the scam will change their life forever. These 'get rich quick' schemes might look good but in reality only the scammer makes money.
  • You need to sign up right away - The scammer will pressure you by saying you have to decide on the spot. Never agree to this. Always ask for documents and read them thoroughly before you make a decision.

What to do if you've been scammed

Here are some things you should do if you have been scammed:

  • Contact your bank - If you have sent money or information to a scammer, contact your bank immediately. They may be able to stop a money transfer or close your account if the scammer has your account details.
  • Report the scam - If it is a financial scam relating to insurance, superannuation, investments, or financial advice you should report it to ASIC. Call ASIC's Indigenous Hotline on 1300 365 957  or ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630. All other scams should be reported to the ACCC'S SCAMwatch website or phone their Infocentre on  1300 795 995 for help with reporting a scam.
  • Avoid follow up scams - If you have been caught up by a scam you may be the target of a follow-up scam. Hang up on a scammer if they try offering to swap your investment for another one or to recover your losses.
  • Get help - If you've been scammed and lost a lot of money you may need some help to get back on track. See get help with money for contact details of people who can help you.
  • Visit SCAMwatch - The ACCC's SCAMwatch website has more detailed information on action you can take after being scammed, on their have you been scammed webpage.

For more information see report a scam.

Watch out for scams. They look legitimate, but you could - and probably will - lose all your money.

Related links

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.

Last updated: 14 Jun 2016