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How to protect yourself from fraudsters

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Scams are on the rise in Australia. In 2021, Scamwatch received 286,600 reports about scams costing $324 million. And these were only the reported losses – the actual numbers may have been much higher.

When it comes to scams, knowledge is power. The more you know about how scammers operate, the easier you can spot a scam.

Here are some of the most prevalent scams in Australia:

Job seekers

Job seekers lost over $8.7 million to recruitment scams in 2022, according to Scamwatch.

Scammers will:

  • Offer salaries disproportionately high compared to the work involved
  • Ask for money upfront in return for a guaranteed income
  • Impersonate online shopping platforms and well-known recruitment agencies
  • Ask for your personal information and banking details upfront

Protect yourself:

  • Do not give money or personal information to someone you’ve only met online, through email or over the phone
  • Be suspicious if you’re offered a job before being interviewed
  • Be cautious if you’re contacted via WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram
  • Research the company offering you a job
  • Don’t act quickly; legitimate recruiters don’t need you to decide right away

Hi Mum

Scammers will send you a message along the lines of, “Hi Mum, I lost my phone, this is my new number. Can you send me some money quickly?”

Protect yourself:

  • Phone your children on their usual phone numbers to check they have their phones
  • Ask a personal question only your children can answer

Remote access scams

You’ll receive a call from someone who claims to be from a software company, like Microsoft, and says they’ve detected a problem with your computer or internet. Then, they’ll try to sell you software to fix the problem or ask for access to your computer.

It’s always a scam. There are no legitimate companies doing this.


You will receive an email asking you to update your information for a particular company. The email will take you to a fake website where the scammers will steal your information.

Protect yourself:

  • Do not click on links in emails requiring you to update your information
  • Only update your information by logging onto a website the way you normally do

Fake bill and loan discounts

You’ll receive an email or phone call offering to reduce your debt by, say, 30% if you settle it immediately. The scammers will give you their bank accounts and disappear with your money.

Protect yourself:

  • Phone the company directly and confirm the offer (use the phone number on your original invoice, not the one appearing on the email)

Farming implements scam

Scammers will offer tractors and heavy machinery for sale online at discounted prices. But the offers are fake.

Australian farm businesses lost more than $1.2 million to these scams between 1 January and 31 August 2022, according to Scamwatch.

Protect yourself:

  • Do not purchase expensive equipment from unknown websites
  • Verify the business independently by searching for it on the internet
  • Don’t make a hasty decision

Think you’ve been scammed?

Don’t know if you’ve been scammed?

Get free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and Illion. Check if there are any outstanding accounts or enquiries listed you were unaware of.

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