Different government agencies deal with different scams. ASIC
only deals with investment scams or scams concerning
financial products or services. 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 different government agencies can
help you with.
Carbon tax compensation
These scams involve a scammer calling you out of the blue,
claiming to be from the Australian Government or a government
department. They will offer you a compensation payment as part
of the Australian Government's Carbon Tax initiative.
The scammer will ask for your bank account details to transfer
the money. If you give them any details they will potentially gain
access to your money and any personal details linked to your bank
account. Do not give them any of your details, especially not your
bank account details.
The Australian Government will never call you to ask for your
bank account details or offer you carbon tax compensation. For
more information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on carbon tax compensation
In a money transfer scam you are promised huge rewards if you
help someone transfer money by paying fees or giving them your bank
account details. These are also called Nigerian scams, if you
are helping scammers to transfer money out of their country,
or up-front payment scams.
One recent Nigerian scam uses the names of ASIC officers and
fake ASIC letterhead to pretend to be from ASIC. The letter or
email requests up-front payment and copies of personal documents in
exchange for access to a substantial overseas inheritance.
People receiving this email or letter should know that ASIC
never contacts the public requesting up-front payment. There have
been a growing number of scams both in Australia and overseas where
the operators pretend to be from government agencies as a way of
gaining consumer trust.
If you receive a request to transfer money in exchange for an
inheritance, lottery win or other large windfall, you should
treat it as a scam and report it to the ACCC. Never
send money or personal information to someone you don't know.
For more information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on up-front payment and advanced fee
Lotteries and fake
These scams involve letters or emails saying you have won a
lottery or prize and that to claim your 'winnings' you need to send
money or your personal details. You will never receive the prize or
it may not be what you expect. For more information see the ACCC's
SCAMwatch webpage on lottery and competition
Mobile phone scams
Misleading offers for 'free' or cheap ringtones that end up
being a subscription or premium rate service are scams. 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 phone scams and the
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)'s webpage on
the complaints they
handle including those related to mobile premium
Chain letters and pyramid
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. For more information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage
on pyramid schemes. If the pyramid
scheme involves selling shares or investments please report the misconduct to ASIC.
Scam emails, faxes, SMS and phone calls at tax time can look or
sound very convincing. They may offer offer you an unexpected
refund or grant and ask you to provide personal information, credit
card information or money. The Australian Taxation Office
(ATO) will never contact you asking for personal or credit
card details and you should never provide this information. For
more information on tax scams take a look at the ATO's information
on verifying and reporting tax-related
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. For more information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on
dating and romance scams.
Scammers may set up fake websites or call you pretending to be
from a charity to get your money or credit card details. For more
information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on charity scams.
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. For more information
see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on job and employment scams.
Small business scams (false
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.
For more information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on small business scams.
Spam emails or unwanted
To reduce spam emails or to stop unwanted telemarketing, go to
the Australian Communications and Media Authority webpages on spam or the Do not call register.
If you are still unsure which agency looks after
the scam you have come across, visit the SCAMwatch
website or call the Australian Consumer and Competition
Commission's Scam Hotline on 1300 795 995.
Last updated: 15 Jul 2015