How to know if it’s a scam

How to tell the difference between scams and genuine contact from us.

Current scam alerts

There are scams around all the time. We’ll let you know about current scams pretending to be from us through our news alerts and social media. You can also check ScamWatch for alerts on current scams.

Signs of a scam

There are many different types of scams. You can read general information about scams on the ScamWatch website.

Most scams are attempts to get your personal or financial details. Scammers then use these details to steal money or commit fraud or identity theft. They may steal directly from you, or use your details to commit other crimes.

Scams can look genuine and it can be difficult to tell when something is fake. However, there are some common signs that something may be a scam, including:

  • the email, text or phone call is unexpected
  • there’s a deadline or sense of urgency
  • there’s a promise of financial benefit or a threat of fines, debts or jail.

If you have any suspicion that something is a scam, call or email our Scams and Identify Theft Helpdesk. Our staff can offer support and advice on what steps to take following a scam.  

Scams work by deception

Scammers often pretend to be from trusted organisations, including from us. They may pretend to be from any of the following:

  • myGov
  • the Department of Human Services
  • Centrelink
  • Medicare
  • Child Support
  • other government agencies, like the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Scammers may want your personal information, including your:

They may also tell you to:

  • pay fees or transfer money to get a payment or benefit, or pay back a debt
  • upload copies of your identity documents
  • buy gift cards or vouchers, such as an iTunes gift card
  • give them remote access to your computer.

If a scammer has your information, they may use the details to:

  • misuse your identity to commit fraud or other crimes
  • access your online accounts, including bank accounts or your myGov account
  • use your credit card
  • scam your friends and family.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risks of scams or identity theft. Read more about how to protect against scams.

Read more about examples of scams pretending to be from us.

Related subjects

Page last updated: 30 September 2019