Protecting yourself from scams
Scammers know all kinds of tricks to get you to hand over your
money. Here are some practical things you can do to protect
yourself and stay one step ahead of the scammers.
Ask the right questions
To check the legitimacy of someone making you an offer, ask
- What is your name and what company do you represent?
- Who owns your company?
- What is your address?
If they avoid answering these questions, the deal they are
offering you is probably a scam. Hang up the phone, delete and
block the email or messages through social media, and stop dealing
with the person. Even if they answer all these questions, be
cautious and do your own checks on their answers.
It is illegal for a foreign business to sell overseas
investments to Australians if they do not have an AFS licence.
Australian companies also need an AFS licence to legally sell
investments in Australia.
Do your own checks
Always do your own research on a company before you deal with
them. You should seek independent professional or legal advice so
you are not relying solely on the information the potential scammer
Check the company's Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence
or credit licence for any investment or credit opportunity being
offered. Do this by searching ASIC Connect's Professional Registers.
Find out what an AFS licence means.
If the company does not have an AFS licence or says they do not
need one, do not deal with them and report them to ASIC.
You can also:
- Check ASIC's list of companies you should not
deal with to see if they are on the list.
- Check the publicly listed phone directory for the company's
address to ensure it is correct.
- Check the IOSCO website
and overseas regulator websites to ensure they are legitimate or if
there are any warnings against them in other countries.
Protect your personal
- Do not give out any personal, banking or credit card
information to anyone who makes contact with you.
- Check your bank and credit card statements every month.
- Destroy all documents with your personal information on
- Choose passwords that are hard to work out and never share your
passwords with anyone else.
- Avoid using the same password for multiple log-ins.
- Be careful what you post online and, if you can, try to limit
what you share.
- Make sure your privacy settings are up to date on your social
media accounts and share personal information with 'friends only'.
Beware if you receive friend requests from people you don't know,
as they may be trying to gain access to your information.
Case study: Mark loses his money to a phone scam
Mark got a call from a person who claimed to be
from his bank, who said his bank account was at risk. They asked
him to move his money into an overseas bank account to protect it.
Mark thought this sounded a bit extreme but said he would think
about it.The person on the phone pressured Mark and told him he
needed to move his funds or he could lose them for good. Mark
decided to transfer the money to protect his savings.
A few days later he called his bank asking when he could move
his money back to his Australian bank account. The bank said they
had no record of the call and that his funds had never been at
risk. Mark had been scammed. Because he had transferred his money
overseas he couldn't get it back. Mark lost all the money he had
Secure your computer and
Delete and do not open any unsolicited or suspicious emails you
receive, and if you have opened them, do not click on any
links in these emails. Enable security settings on your computer
and mobile devices and install current anti-virus programs.
Never send any personal information via text message. If you get
a text message from your bank or government department asking you
to follow a link, be wary. A bank will never ask you to send
personal information via email or text and will never ask for your
PIN or CCV numbers. If the caller or sender claims to be from
a government agency, remember that government departments would
never ask you for your personal details via email or text
You can also protect yourself on social media by ensuring your
password is secure and by deleting and blocking ads for financial
products from your feed.
For more tips on scam avoidance see protect your identity and protecting yourself
from online scams.
You can put your name on the Do Not Call Register to remove
your name from telemarketing phone lists. This should reduce the
number of telemarketing calls you receive but will not stop
scammers from phoning you as they do not follow the rules set by
Be on guard about every offer that is made to
you. Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Your
best defence against scams is to hang up the phone, delete the
email or text or destroy the letter if you think it looks even
vaguely like a scam.
Last updated: 24 Apr 2018