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Phone scams

Scams target everyone. Scammers use stealth, surprise and clever tactics to get what they want, which may be your money or your personal details. No-one is too smart to be scammed.

But, there are things you can do to help spot—and stop—a phone scam.

Report scams to Scamwatch

If you think you’ve been scammed, tell your bank and phone company immediately.

How to spot a scam

Always be wary about any calls or texts that come from people you don’t know.

Scam tactics

Scammers are very sophisticated, which can make a scam difficult to spot.

Scammers may:

  • 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

Remember the rule: If in doubt, don’t.

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.

You should:

  • 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

Use our phone scam educational resources to raise awareness about phone scams and how to combat them.

The resources include:

  • posters in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Italian
  • social media graphics and animations.
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