This section of the website explains how scams work, how to identify different scams and what to do if you have been scammed. Most importantly, we tell you how to avoid getting caught up in a scam.

As ASIC only deals with scams involving investments, superannuation, managed funds, financial advice or insurance, this section of the website mainly deals with those types of scams. But we do tell you where to go for information on other types of scams.

You can also check ASIC lists to check up on people, companies, schemes and personal property.

Non-investment scams

If the scam you see is not a financial scam, there are other government agencies that can help you. The ACCC's SCAMwatch website is a good place to start looking for information on scams.
Here is a list of scams that other government agencies can help you with:

  • Money transfer requests: These scams involve promises of huge rewards if you help someone transfer money by paying fees or giving them your bank account details. These are also called Nigerian scams. Or you may be asked to transfer money in exchange for an inheritance or other large windfall. Treat these offers as a scam and report it to the ACCC. Never send money or personal information to someone you don't know. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpages on Nigerian scams and inheritance scams.
  • Lotteries and fake prizes: These scams involve letters or emails saying you have won a lottery or prize and you need to send money or your personal details to claim your 'winnings'. Visit the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on unexpected prize and lottery scams.
  • Mobile phone scams: These include misleading offers for 'free' or cheap ringtones that end up being a subscription or premium rate service, and mysterious text messages or SMS competitions that can cost a lot of money if you reply to them. For more information, see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on mobile premium services scams and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman webpage on the complaints they handle.
  • Chain letters and pyramid schemes: Chain letter scams falsely promise financial or other benefits for a small cost if you forward letters via the post or sometimes by email. With pyramid schemes, you pay to become a member, but the only way to recover your money is to convince others to join up and also pay money. These schemes fail when the supply of 'victims' dries up. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on pyramid schemes. If the pyramid scheme involves selling shares or investments, report it to ASIC.
  • Tax scams: Scam emails, SMS messages and phone calls at tax time can look or sound very convincing. They may offer you an unexpected refund or grant and ask you to provide personal details, credit card information or money. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will never contact you asking for personal or credit card details. Visit the ATO's information on verifying and reporting tax-related scams.
  • Dating and romance scams: These scams occur on dating websites where the person you meet online asks you to send them money for bogus but highly emotional reasons. Visit the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on dating and romance scams.
  • Charity scams: Scammers may set up fake websites or call you pretending to be from a charity to get your money or credit card details. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on fake charities.
  • Job and employment scams: Employment opportunities that promise huge incomes with little work, usually by asking you to transfer money for someone else or recruit new victims, are another type of scam. Scammers 'guarantee' you a job or certain level of income and trick you into paying an up-front fee for unnecessary work materials. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on job and employment scams.
  • Small business scams (false billing): Small business scams include bills for advertising or directory listings that you never ordered, dodgy office supply offers and false claims of government requirements needing you to send money. Visit the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on small business scams.
  • Spam emails or unwanted telemarketing calls: To reduce spam emails or to stop unwanted telemarketing, visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority webpage on spam or the Do not call register.

Last updated: 31 Oct 2018