If someone you don't know asks for your personal details or offers you a loan, it could be a scam. Scammers can use your personal information to steal your money and run up debts in your name.
If someone contacts you about an investment that you think could be a scam, see investment scams.
How to spot a scam
Scammers can target you online, by phone or by email. Know what to look for so you can spot a scam and protect yourself.
Credit card scams
Scammers don't need your credit card to use it. They only need your card details.
Signs of a credit card scam:
- You notice unusual purchases on your credit card statement.
Check your credit card statements regularly, especially if your card is lost or stolen. If you see something you don't recognise, report it to your bank.
If someone contacts you out of the blue to offer you a loan, it’s probably a scam.
Signs of a loan scam:
- The loan seems too good to be true (for example, a really low interest rate).
- There's no credit check or you're guaranteed approval.
- They ask for an up-front deposit or your bank details.
- The offer is ending soon and they pressure you to act now.
- The company claims to be in Australia but has an international phone number.
If you don't recognise the lender, check the company details online and read reviews. Make sure it's not on our list of companies you should not deal with.
Phishing is when a scammer tries to steal your personal information. The scammer pretends to be a company you know, like a bank or an internet provider. The scammer may contact you by email, phone or text, or on social media.
Signs of a phishing scam:
- The email address doesn't match the company name (also look for hotmail, gmail or outlook in the address).
- There are spelling mistakes or the information doesn't make sense.
- You're asked to update or confirm your personal details.
- You're asked for immediate payment.
Don't click on any links. Delete the email or message straight away.
To find out about the latest scams, visit Scamwatch.
Report a scam
Call your bank quickly if a scammer gets access to your credit card, bank account or personal information. Your bank can freeze the account and may be able to reverse an unauthorised transaction.
If you’ve been targeted by a scammer, report it to:
Banking and credit card scams
Fraud and theft
Tax related scams
Support after a scam
If a scam has caused you problems with debt, talk to a financial counsellor. They can help you get your finances back on track.
If you've been scammed and need someone to talk to, contact:
- Lifeline — 13 11 14 or the online Crisis Support Chat
- Beyond Blue — 1300 22 4636 or Beyond Blue website
How to protect yourself against scams
Scammers are skilled at finding ways to get your details and your dollars. Follow these simple steps to protect yourself from scams.
Use strong passwords
Strong passwords make it harder for scammers to hack your online banking or email accounts. For tips to protect your information online, visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
Secure your computer and mobile devices
Make sure your computer's antivirus software and operating system is up to date. These can help block scammers before they attack.
Password-protect all your devices. If you're using a shared or public computer, never save passwords and always log out of your accounts.
Shop on secure websites
Only shop on websites you trust and make sure the website is secure. The web address should show a closed padlock or key and start with 'https'.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
If you're using a public Wi-Fi network, don't send or receive sensitive information. For example, don't log in to your online banking or social media accounts.
Shred your documents
Shred letters from your employer, bank or super fund before you throw them out. These letters often contain personal details that scammers can use.
Check the lender is licensed by ASIC
By law, all lenders must hold a credit licence from ASIC. You can check if a lender is licensed on ASIC's website. Choose 'Credit Licensee' in the drop-down menu when you search.
If they don't have a licence, don't deal with them and report them to ASIC.
Kyle finds an unusual purchase on his credit card statement
Kyle needed to buy a new laptop. He found a great deal online for half-price. He hadn't heard of the company before, but decided that the offer was too good to pass up.
The next week, Kyle noticed a large purchase on his credit card that he didn't make. He called his bank straight away and asked them to freeze the account. Because Kyle acted quickly, the bank was able to 'charge back' (reverse the transaction) and Kyle got his money back.
Kyle reported the website to his local police, and to Scamwatch so they could warn others.