Scams and cybercrime

When it comes to scams and cybercrime, knowledge is power.

This page includes information on:

Scams

Scams cost Australian consumers, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

It’s not just the gullible or greedy who get scammed. Scammers are smart, they often use emotional triggers to extort money and/or information from their victims, causing emotional harm and financial hardship to those affected.

You can learn more and protect yourself with The Little Black Book of Scams.

Types of scams

  • attempts to gain your personal information (including hacking, identity theft and phishing)
  • buying or selling scams
  • dating and romance scams (often via dating websites, apps or social media)
  • fake charities seeking donations
  • investment opportunities and ‘foolproof betting systems’
  • jobs and employment (offers of ‘guaranteed’ employment and other ways to ‘get rich quick’)
  • threats and extortion (including malware and threats of fines, arrest and even violence)
  • unexpected money (inheritance and rebate scams)
  • unexpected winnings (including winning lottery tickets, prize giveaways)

Learn more about these scams and more on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s Scamwatch website.

Cybercrime

Cybercrime and scams often overlap, but cybercrime does not always involve a scam.

Cybercrime is illegal activity directed at computers, mobile phones or other online devices, where computers or other online devices are the main way the illegal activity is carried out.

Types of cybercrime

  • online scams and fraud
  • identity theft
  • email spam and phishing
  • attacks on computer systems
  • distribution and possession of offensive and illegal content
  • cyber-bullying
  • online trading issues.

Learn more about cybercrime at the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) website.

Report a scam or cybercrime

Unfortunately, if you’ve lost money to a scam it is unlikely you will get your money back. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from further harm:

  1. Report scams to the ACCC using this online form.
  2. If you know the scam started in NSW, and/or you know the name of the business or individual, call us on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.
  3. If possible, report the scam to the appropriate agency (see below) to help them warn others and take action against scammers.
Type of incidentAgency
BankingYour bank or financial institution
Centrelink, Medicare, child support and myGov-related scamsDepartment of Human Services Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk - call 1800 941 126
CybercrimeAustralian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)
Financial and investment scamsAustralian Securities and Investments Commission
Fraud and theftNSW Police - call 131 444
Image-based abuse (sextortion), cyber-bullying and illegal contentOffice of the eSafety Commissioner
SpamAustralian Communications and Media Authority
Tax-related scamsAustralian Taxation Office

Be a savvy consumer

When you’ve been scammed

Here is some advice to help you get back on your feet after falling victim to a scam or cybercrime:

  • Contact your financial institution
    If you have sent money or shared your banking details with a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop a transaction or close your account to protect you from further loss. Your credit card provider may be able to chargeback any fraudulent transactions.
  • Change your online passwords
    If you think your computer or device has been hacked or infected with malware, you should change the passwords for all your online accounts. Never use one password for all your accounts, if someone uncovers it, they unlock all your information.
  • Recover your stolen identity
    If you are a victim of identity theft it is important you act quickly to minimise your losses. You can:
    • contact iDcare. iDcare is a free government-funded service that can work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process. Visit the iDcare website for more.
    • apply for a Commonwealth Victims' Certificate. This helps support your claim that you've been the victim of identity crime, and can be used to help re-establish your credentials with government or financial institutions. See Victims of Commonwealth identity crime for more.
  • Contact a counselling or support service if you need to talk
    Lifeline, Beyond Blue or the Suicide Call Back Service can help.

Protect yourself against scams

Have you had a phone call or SMS out of the blue? Phishy email or ‘lucky’ letter? Unknown knock at the door? Strange behaviour from an online friend or admirer? These tips will help to protect yourself against scammers.

  • Don’t respond: Ignore suspicious emails, letters, house visits, phone calls or SMS – press ‘delete’, throw them out, shut the door or just hang up.
  • Watch out for slick tricks: Scammers use sophisticated tricks to fool you, like fake websites, glossy brochures, technical jargon or posing as someone that you know and trust – don’t fall for them.
  • Don’t let scammers push your buttons: Scammers will play on your emotions to get what they want.
  • Protect your identity: Your personal details are private and invaluable – keep them that way. Avoid filling out forms online where personal financial information is requested. Only use secure websites, or a telephone, to transmit sensitive information.

Stop travelling conmen

Stop Travelling Conmen is a campaign to help identify travelling conmen and protect the Australian community from misleading and deceptive conduct. All Australian state and territory consumer protection agencies are involved. Visit the Stop Travelling Conmen Facebook page for more information.

If you are approached by someone you suspect to be a conman, call the national hotline on 1300 133 408 (8.30 am to 5.00 pm, Monday - Friday).

Further information

Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?

The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will enforce provisions relating to financial products and services.

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