Current scams in Australia and how to avoid them

More and more fraudsters are trying to scam people out of their hard-earned money. They're always coming up with new ways of doing so including scams on the phone, online dating scams, phishing emails and much more. Scammers often offer a product or service that seems too good to be true or call you asking for your personal information such as PINs or account details

Current scams 

It is impossible to list all scams currently being used as there are so many (and then, so many variations to the original scam). However some examples of current scams in Australia are:

Romance Scam

A Romance Scam is an online dating scam where the scammer will spend time cultivating a relationship with you online, often over many months. They might then ask you for emergency money to help a sick relative or to assist with foreign aid activities. They may even ask you to pay for them come to Australia to meet you in person.

A common sign of a romance scam is if you're asked to send money overseas to an account in another name than the person you are in contact with. If you suspect a romance scam, you should stop communicating with the person immediately and talk to someone you trust about the situation. You can also report your experience to the ACCC.

Remote Access Scam

A Remote Access Scam often occurs on the phone, where scammers call you claiming to be from a telecommunications company. They will then seek remote access to your computer to conduct offsite maintenance. While they have remote access, they will ask you to log into your internet banking platform and steal your credentials and funds from your account.

Never provide remote access to your PC without validating that it is a legitimate request directly with your telecommunications provider. 

Phishing

Phishing’ refers to emails that trick people into giving out their personal and banking information. They can also be sent by SMS. These messages seem to come from legitimate businesses and are often disguised as banks or other financial institutions or telecommunications providers. The scammers are trying to get information such as bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers, which they will then use to steal your identity.

Advanced Fee Scam

An Advanced Fee Scam is a form of upfront payment or money transfer scam that can come from anywhere in the world. The scammers offer you a share in a large sum of money that they want to transfer out of their country but first require you to send them funds so that they can undertake the transfer. They may claim the money is trapped in central banks during civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news. Alternatively, they could say that you are “entitled to” a share of massive inheritances that are difficult to access because of government restrictions or taxes in the scammer’s country.  The scammers will then “take the money and run”.

Lottery Scam

A Lottery Scam is usually an email or letter from an overseas lottery or sweepstakes company arrives advising that you have won a lot of money or fantastic prizes in a lottery or sweepstakes competition you did not enter. These scams often use the names of actual overseas lotteries (often Spanish lotteries), so may seem legitimate. However, you cannot win these lotteries without buying a ticket from an authorised distributor in the country it is from.  The scammers may use the scam to obtain your details or similarly to ‘Nigerian’ scams to extract an advance payment for the target.

Money Mule scam

A Money Mule Scam is when scammers send money to you, and ask you to send it onto someone else. They often want you to send the money on using a gift card or wire transfer. This scam can often be advertised as a ‘work-from-home’ opportunity but is a front for illegal money laundering or attempts at identity theft. Participating in money laundering is a criminal offence.

Emergency Response Themed Scam

Emergency Response Themed Scams come up when scammers try to piggy-back off community emergencies, such as Bushfire relief or COVID-19, to seek donations for non-legitimate purposes. Instead of your donation going to those in need, it goes into the scammers back pocket. Always do your homework before donating or providing any account information online. In Australia, you can find registered charities who are authorised to accept donations on the ACNC Charity Register. 

Investment Scam 

Investment Scams prey on your trust in your online connections and desire to grow your wealth. These scams are ‘allegedly’ promoted by celebrities or by your social media friends and ask you to invest into a wealth-growth opportunity, such as Crypto Currency or Gold. Most of these promotions are too good to be true, and are fabricated with false endorsements to persuade you into handing over money that you won’t see again. If your friend is promoting something you suspect as an investment scam, you should personally check with your friend to ensure their social media site has not been hijacked to issue false endorsements. You should also research the investment strategy carefully and seek professional investment advice.

Puppy Scams 

Yes, scammers even use puppies to try to scam you out of your money. Puppy Scams occur where the sale of a pedigree puppy is promoted online and a deposit fee is requested in order to meet transport costs etc. The breeder is not legitimate or has had their webpage high jacked in order give the appearance of legitimacy. So instead of purchasing a puppy, your deposit disappears to the scammer. Before making any expensive purchase online always research thoroughly. You can ask the Breeder for details of their servicing Vet so you can obtain a reference. Make sure you contact the vet using contact details obtained independently. 

Heritage Bank and Scams

Our Fraud team works around the clock to keep track of scams, including those that may impact our customers. You can keep up to date on any scams impersonating Heritage Bank on our latest alerts page. 

Remember: While Heritage may send information, or confirm receipt of items, by email, we will NEVER send an email that asks you to share personal security details such as your PIN, CCV number, internet banking passwords, credit card details, or require you to click on links or attachments within the email including to update or verify your details. It is important that you do not act on emails requesting this information in any circumstance. 

How to avoid being scammed

Some more tips to help avoid falling into these scams are: 

  • Be wary of spam emails, chain letters and persons purporting to be representatives of Government Departments, financial institutions or other businesses. Check out our article on how to tell if an email is fraud. 
  • Do not give your name, bank account details, copies of your passport, birth certificate or any other personal details or documents to anyone other than for legitimate purposes.
  • If someone contacts you asking for personal information, check carefully that they are legitimate.
  • Be suspicious of any correspondence from overseas asking you to forward large sums of money or advising that you have won a prize.
  • If someone blocks access to your computer or personal files, and then asks for a payment to remove that block, report the incident to the Police.
  • Keep up to date with the types of scams in circulation, so you can identify them if needed.

Check out our Security and Scam Help and Guidance hub for more helpful tips. For more detailed information on current scams go to the Australian Government Scamwatch website. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) runs this website to help you recognise, report and protect yourself from scams. 

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