Falsifying legitimate brands

Many trusted services and brands are falsely copied by scammers to make the scam more believable. These copies can be sophisticated and hard to spot.

Tip: If you have doubts about any caller who claims to represent a business or organisation, hang up and call them back using contact details from an independent source – find their number using the phone book or the official company website.

Falsified business details can be very hard to spot, whether in print, email, messaging or online. While some scams are relatively obvious, others are sophisticated and give only subtle clues that they are fraudulent.

If you're not sure, talk through the suspicious message with a friend, family member or colleague, or check its legitimacy by contacting the relevant business or organisation directly.

Talking through your concerns out loud with someone else can reassure you and help to identify messages that may be fake before you click a malicious link or give away any personal information.

Get help

If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or helpless – there are steps you can take to limit the damage and protect yourself from further harm.

  • Contact your bank or financial institution. If you’ve sent money or your personal banking details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to help by stopping a money transfer or cheque, investigating a fraudulent credit card transaction, or closing your account if the scammer has your details.
  • Recover your identity. If you think you have been the victim of identity theft, act quickly to avoid further damage. Contact IDCare, a free government-funded service who can help. 
  • Report the scam to the authorities. If you have been a victim of a crime (such as fraud) report it to your local police. We also encourage you to report the scam to the ACCC’s Scamwatch and ACSC's ReportCyber.

For additional information on the different kinds of help available, visit Scamwatch.

How these scams work

Many trusted services and brands are falsely copied by scammers to make the scam more believable. These copies can be sophisticated and hard to spot.

Brands that are frequently falsified now have security pages that identify active scams using their branding. These pages often include examples and pictures of scam messages to help you tell fake messages from real ones.

Brands that are commonly copied include: state and territory police or law enforcement (fake fine scams); utilities such as power and gas (fake bills and overdue fines); postal services (parcel pick-up scams); banks (fake requests to update your information); telecommunication services (fake bills, fines or requests to confirm your details); and government departments and service providers such as the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink, Medicare and myGov.

What to look out for

To protect your information, most of these services will never contact you out of the blue (unsolicited call, email or SMS etc.) to:

  • ask for your user name, PIN, password or secret/security questions and answers
  • ask you to enter information on a web page that isn't part of their main public website
  • ask to confirm personal information such as credit card details or account information
  • request payment on the spot (e.g. for an undeliverable mail item or overdue fee).

If you are unsure if a message you have received is legitimate, contact the company directly using the contact details in the phone book or on their public website. You can also look for security information on their main public website.

Protect yourself from fake online shopping sites

There are a number of different precautions you can take to protect yourself from fake online shopping scams.

  • Understand that scams exist and use caution online.  Be particularly wary of any uninvited contact – whether it’s via email, social media or other means.
  • Use strong passwords, take steps to protect your computer and use safe behaviour when using the web.
  • Avoid malicious messages – don’t share your email address online unless you need to, use a spam filter to catch bogus messages before they get to your inbox and delete spam that does get through without opening it.
  • Don’t open messages or click on links if you don’t know the sender or if you’re not expecting them.
  • Don’t accept friend or contact requests on social media from people you don’t know. Criminals may use information they gather about you from social media in order to make their messages more appealing or appear more authentic.

Learn more

Use the following resources to learn more about scams and how to protect yourself: