What common scams should I look out for?
- Scams to gain your personal information - scammers will try anything to get hold of your personal details in a bid to make a fraudulent purchase or open a bank account in your name. Be particularly aware of ‘phishing’ scams which according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is the most common scam type in Australia.1 Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick you into handing over highly sensitive information such as bank account details, passwords and credit card numbers. They may do this in a number of ways, including asking you to ‘re-activate your account’ or pay for an outstanding bill that doesn’t exist.
Other ways scammers might obtain your personal information is by hacking into your computer or mobile phone, or tricking you into installing software that allows the scammer to access your files and monitor your movements online.
- Dating and romance scams – dating and romance scammers create fake profiles on dating websites, apps or social media platforms using fake photos and identities. In this scenario, scammers typically try to enter into a relationship with you, pull at your heart strings before eventually asking you for money for something like medical bills, travel costs or a family crisis. These scammers are often overseas, pretending to work in the military or as an engineer for example.
- Online shopping scams – with more Aussies shopping online for goods and services, scammers have more opportunities to pose as genuine buyers and sellers on online shopping sites, online auctions and classified sites which are also becoming particularly common. According to Scamwatch, social media platforms have given rise to a new version of online shopping scams, where scammers use social platforms such as Facebook to set up online stores and attract buyers. These fake stores typically offer fake branded luxury clothing or jewellery at low prices, and then disappear once they’ve sufficiently profited from unsuspecting customers.
- Phone scams - phone scams are designed to trick you into thinking you’re communicating with someone from a well-known organisation, such as the Australian Tax Office (ATO) or Telstra. The end goal is to get hold of your personal information or payment details.
Phone scammers often call to chase up ‘outstanding bills’ or they may even imitate someone from the ‘support desk’ in an attempt to get remote access to your computer. Technical support scams typically start with a caller claiming that your computer is infected with a virus, or there is a problem with your internet connection. Often, these scammers will use technical jargon to appear legitimate and intimidate you into following their instructions.
These scam types are just some of the scams you could come across online. Below are others to look out for:
- Unexpected money scams
- Prize and lottery scams
- Identity theft
- Job and employment scams
- Charity and medical scams
- Business scams
For more information about how to protect yourself from scammers, you can download the ACCC’s “The little black book of scams” or visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to stay up to date on the latest scam news and alerts.