Banking and credit scams

How to identify and avoid credit scams

Scammers have clever ways to get your banking, credit card or personal details, and to trick you out of your money by offering you a loan. 

Here we explain how you can protect yourself by spotting the warning signs of banking and credit scams.

Credit card scams

Scammers don't need to steal your credit card to take your money - all they need are your card details. They can get these by: 

  • contacting you online or by phone, pretending to be your bank or another company, and tricking you into giving them your credit card details
  • accessing your information from unsecured websites you've visited
  • installing spyware on your computer so they can see the files you use, websites you visit and information you store. Spyware can be installed remotely.

Some scammers also steal new cards from letterboxes, skim the details off cards to use later, or apply for cards using stolen identities

If scammers know your PIN, they can get cash advances from an ATM using a 'cloned' credit card (where your details have been copied onto the magnetic strip of another card). 

Warning signs of a credit card scam

Your credit card details may have been taken by a scammer if: 

  • there are purchases on your credit card statement that you didn't make
  • you have accidently given your credit card details (on the phone or internet) to someone you later realise you should not have trusted
  • your credit card is lost or stolen. 

Loan scams

Scammers will contact you via phone or email to offer you a loan or credit. They will say they are a registered Australian company or Australian credit licensee. They may even have an Australian phone number or address to appear legitimate. If you agree to the loan, they will ask you for upfront payments before you get access to the money. 

Signs of a loan scam

You might be at risk of falling victim to a loan scam if you're:

  • offered a loan by being contacted out of the blue
  • asked to make upfront payments before you get the loan, to pay for things like insurance, tax or initial repayments
  • told to deposit your upfront payment into a bank account, a cryptocurrency wallet or by buying a gift card for the scammer to redeem
  • emailed from a generic email address (e.g. a gmail, hotmail or outlook account), or an email address that looks like it's from a legitimate institution but is spelled incorrectly
  • approved for a loan amount that is more than you require
  • offered a very low interest rate.

Requests for account information (phishing)

Scammers may contact you via email, text message, social media, or phone call and pretend to be a bank, financial institution, phone company, or even a university or government agency. The aim of the scam is to get you to give them your personal details, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and most importantly, your passwords. 

For example, an email they send may say there has been a security breach and ask you to download their security software, which is really a trojan virus. The virus could infect your computer and give someone else control of it. It could also track your key strokes to get your user names and passwords. 

Signs of a phishing scam

The email or text message you receive is definitely a phishing scam if it:

  • claims to be from a bank or company that you do not have an account with
  • contains a link that leads you to a website where you are asked to enter your bank account details
  • says your details are required for security and maintenance upgrades or to 'verify' your account
  • says you are due to receive a refund for a fee that you were mistakenly charged.

The email or text message could also be a phishing scam if it:

  • does not address you by your full name
  • has spelling errors or grammatical mistakes
  • is a survey that offers you a reward or prize for filling it in.

How to protect yourself from banking and credit scams

Scammers can be ruthless, so it's important to be vigilant about protecting your information and know who you're dealing with. Visit protect yourself from scams for more information. 

What to do if you've been scammed

If a scammer gets access to your credit card or bank account, call your bank immediately and ask them to freeze the account. See what to do if you've been scammed for more detailed information on what to do next. 

Scammers are skilled at finding ways to get their hands on your money. Always be vigilant about protecting your personal information and be suspicious of anyone offering you easy money - there is almost always a catch. 

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Last updated: 24 Oct 2018