Scam and hoax websites and emails are designed to:
- trick you into disclosing personal information such as bank account details, passwords or credit card numbers
- con you into paying money for fake get-rich-quick offers, prizes or lottery wins, or fraudulent or poor quality goods.
Be suspicious of emails from people or businesses you don't know, particularly if they promise you money, good health or a solution to all your problems.
Be suspicious of unexpected emails from your bank or financial institution. Banks don't do business via email and never ask for confidential information via email. Scammers put a lot of time and money into making hoax emails and bogus websites look real. Don't be fooled.
Looks too good to be true? It probably is!
There are a huge range of scams on the internet, from promises of non-existent free products in return for clicking through to a website (which make advertising profits), to sophisticated targeted scams which can run for years and cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Common scams are described below, and more information can be found on Scamwatch.
|419 or 'Nigerian letter' advance fee
These messages are sent to thousands of people on the probability that some will believe the story and forward the advance fee.
|Email (or letter) claiming to be from a solicitor, barrister, public official or some other authoritative person.||
|Dating and romance
They attempt to enter into an online relationship with the victim in order to persuade them to forward money or divulge personal details.
Generally, any offer that promises a large reward for a small fee is almost certainly a scam.
Steps to avoid online scams and hoaxes
Delete suspicious emails and leave websites that:
- ask you to provide your banking details or personal information
- promise you money
- present hard luck or exotic stories telling you that you can share in hidden millions of dollars
- offer jobs where you need no qualifications, but ask for a bank account for money transfers.
- Never provide personal details via emails or links from emails. If you are unsure, double-check by phoning the company using the number in the phone book or their company website.
- Never follow the links in spam emails; these could lead to downloading unwanted viruses or malware.
- Ensure that you have up-to-date antivirus software installed on your computer.
- Install a firewall on your computer and make sure it is activated.
Where to get help
|Fraudulent use of your identity||
|Harassment or bullying on a social networking site|
|Sexual exploitation or other criminal activity||
|Report a scam|
|You are looking for more technical information to solve a problem||
|Information on recent threats||Sign up to the free Stay Smart Online Alert Service|
A list of useful contacts can be found on our Contact us page.
Find out more:
- ACCC's Little Black Book of Scams
- eSafety information
- Protecting Yourself Online — What Everyone Needs to Know (PDF)
- Protecting Yourself Online — What Everyone Needs to Know (RTF)
- Protecting Your Identity' booklet — What Everyone Needs to Know (PDF)
- Protecting Your Identity' booklet — What Everyone Needs to Know (RTF)
- Smart behaviours to protect your personal and financial information, Stay Smart Online video
- US FTC Phishing Quiz — Know a phishing attack (hoax email) when you see one?
- US FTC Spam Quiz — Don't be caught out by scams