How to spot a scam
Scammers are very sophisticated, which can make a scam difficult to spot.
- pretend to be from an organisation you trust and ask for your personal details in a call or a text
- say that you have won a prize or there’s money waiting for you
- use logos and copy real text messages to look legitimate
- disguise their number/s, to make it look like they’re calling from somewhere local
- call over and over, making it hard to ignore
- use ‘robocalls’ or recorded messages saying your internet will be disconnected and ask for payment or personal data
- lie and tell you stories, like your computer needs urgent attention
- act like it’s an emergency and tell you something bad will happen if you don’t click a link or call a number to check your details.
It’s probably a scam if:
- a call or text sounds too good to be true
- someone you don’t know has your personal details
- your bank (or another institution that you trust) calls or texts you to ask for personal information or money
- you’re threatened or made to feel afraid
- someone asks to access your computer.
How to protect yourself from phone scams
Don’t answer, don’t click on links, don’t give personal details, and don’t give money.
- Don’t answer if you don’t know who it is. Let the call go to voicemail first. If the caller leaves a number, check that it matches the one on their website.
- Don’t reply or click on any links in text messages.
- Don’t ever send money.
- Don’t ever tell anyone your personal details—passwords or other sensitive information.
- Don’t ever let someone take control of your computer.
- Block callers—your phone company can tell you how.
- On a mobile phone, there may be a setting to block specific numbers. You can also use an app (but watch out for charges).
- On your home phone, you can get a handset that lets you block calls, or you can get a device for your existing phone that can block callers.
- Use a password on your mobile.
- Check text messages carefully. Look for things that don’t look right—bad spelling, strange sender name or number.
- Put a lock on your home mailbox—this way, people can’t steal items that may give information about your identity.
- Check if an unknown number is from an official source by checking online. Typing the number into a search engine like Google might come up with details about the owner of the phone number.
- Carefully choose who you share personal details with online and update privacy settings on social media.
Phone scam educational resources
The resources include:
- posters in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Italian
- social media graphics and animations.
More information and where to get help
Australian Cyber Security Centre:
- Contact IDCARE if you’ve had personal details stolen. You can also call 1800 595 160
- FAQS from the Do Not Call Register
- What to do if your phone number is stolen
- Stop getting spam
- Protect yourself from unwanted telemarketing
- Information about calling line identification and spoofing
- Sign-up for our phone scam e-bulletin
If a company uses your private information and you did not agree, you can complain to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.