Scams are attempts to intentionally mislead a person, usually with the goal of financial or other gain. Many Australian customers have fallen prey to various different scams. It's important for you to understand how to recognise scams and avoid them. So here’s a few tips to help you.

Top tips to avoid scams

  1. If it looks too good to be true—it probably is.
  2. ALWAYS get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.
  3. Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.
  4. NEVER send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone  do not know and trust.
  5. Check your bank account and credit card statements regularly. If you see a transaction you cannot explain on your ANZ account, contact us on 13 13 14.
  6. Keep your credit and ATM cards safe. Do not share your personal identity number with anyone. Do not keep any written copy of your PIN with the card.

Scams come in all shapes and sizes, it’s good to understand what the latest and most common scams affecting Australian consumers are. So here’s some descriptions of scams and how they work to try and take your money.

Find out more about scams

Job scams

Be wary of various job scams advertised via the Internet. Bogus overseas companies have been targeting Australian consumers to act as ‘money transfer agents’ in the sale of goods and services via methods such as fake job advertisements, unsolicited emails and online chat rooms.

‘Employees’ are asked to use their own bank accounts to transfer money overseas made from ‘sales’ in Australia. In fact, they will be transferring stolen money. In most cases, employees are instructed to send these funds to Eastern European countries. Employees are promised a percentage of the transfer as their commission.

The fake job advertisement websites look very professional and convincing. Some job advertisements contain malicious software that allow the job advertiser to access the person’s computer and collect their personal details, including bank account details. Exercise extreme caution if you receive an email from any person or company asking for your personal and banking details.

Finally, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Mystery shopper scams

You might apply for a job as a mystery shopper and are sent some money to purchase a few small goods. Then you are asked to mystery shop the services of money transfer companies like Western Union and send money overseas. This money is from Internet Banking Fraud, counterfeit Traveler’s cheques or business cheques.

Dating and bogus friend scams

Dating and Bogus Friend scams aim to appeal to your romantic or compassionate nature. It may start as a friend request on Facebook from someone you don’t know or via Internet dating sites.

Scammers will attempt to build your trust over what could be a number of months, revealing personal information to you, sending you gifts or promising to visit you.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll ask you for money either directly or subtly by telling you of an ill relative that needs the funds for medical treatment or how they’re enduring financial hardship and need some funds. You could lose your money doing this, and many Australians have.

In other cases they may ask you for your banking/credit card details because they need to get some money out of the country or want to share some with you. This may be money laundering.

Online Purchasing Scams

There are a range of online purchasing scams for buyers and sellers alike. Some include:

Classified ads scams

Sellers are posing with genuine classified ads for all sorts of things including pets, rental properties, cars and bikes with real pictures and details offering goods at low prices to get your interest. Once you’ve responded the seller usually claims to be travelling or moved overseas and that an agent will give you the goods once they get your payment. A professional looking email receipt for payment is then sent to you. After you’ve paid them you won’t get your goods and you won’t be able to contact the seller anymore.

For rental properties they also claim to be away overseas and cannot be there to do inspections. They may ask you for a deposit to secure it and even documents proving your identity and bank details which are then used for identity theft.

Overpayment scams
Other scams include overpayment for goods you’re selling, paying you for example $9000 instead of $900. The buyer tells you’ve they’ve made a mistake entering the information and asks you to send the difference to them overseas via Western Union. This is another way scammers are laundering money.

Direct debit scam

Direct debit fraud happens when you receive a couple or even just one small credit to your account – as small as 1 cent. The credit is made with a six digit code, which once confirmed by the bank allows direct debits to come from that account. Scammers use your compromised Internet Banking to get this code and go about direct debiting your account of funds.


Lottery scams

This is when you get a phone call, email or letter letting you know you’ve won an online lottery or a lottery draw overseas. But before you can get your prize money you are asked to send them money to claim your prize. There is no prize money and the money you send is lost.

Genealogy site scams

These happen when you are contacted by someone letting you know that you are the last living relative of a wealthy person who has passed away. For you to inherit their fortune you need to pay some legal fees. Again there isn’t any inheritance and the money you send goes to the scammers.


Calling scams

Cold calling scams
You may be contacted by phone with someone offering investment opportunities. They may have professional looking websites showing their success. Often your first smaller investment receives a good dividend like 50% over a few months. You will be given this money making you feel confident that the investment is legitimate. Then you may be asked to invest again and having built your trust this is usually a larger amount. But this time you don’t receive any returns and your money is gone.
Software upgrade calls
Becoming more common are calls offering free software upgrades like anti-virus. To be eligible for the upgrade they claim you have to provide your credit card details. Once you provide this the fraudsters used the details to do transactions with your money.
Refund bank charges
Customers have fallen prey to another calling scam where a caller claiming to be from the Office of Fair Trading lets you know that you’re eligible for a refund of bank charges. To be able to start the refund process you’re asked to send a small amount of money via a money transfer service like Western Union. The fraudsters are also providing a contact number that seems to look like an Australian phone number. However they’re using VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol) from an overseas location to take enquiries and appear as though they are legitimate. There is no bank charges refund and the money you sent is lost.

Find out more about types of banking fraud, latest security alerts & reporting fraud 

If you experience any of the above scams we encourage you to report the scam by going to the Federal Government Scamwatch website.

For more information on scams