Other scams

Non-investment scams

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 payment scams

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 payments.

Money transfer requests

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 frauds.

Lotteries and fake prizes

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 scams.

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 services.

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. 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.

Tax scams

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 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. For more information see 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. 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 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. For more information see the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on small business scams.

Spam emails or unwanted telemarketing calls

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.

Related links

Last updated: 08 Mar 2017