Security tips

Identifying a scam

Scams can come in many forms and use a range of ways to trick people into handing over personal information. The tactics used by scammers and fraudsters can vary from someone coming to your front door to an unexpected email but all are designed to get hold of your money. Fraudsters may pretend to be your bank, a government agency, a retailer or someone you trust. The key is knowing how to tell friend from foe and what to do if you think you’ve been targeted.


What to look out for

  • Email scams

    Scam emails asking for your bank or log-in details can look like the real deal. Known as ‘phishing’, fraudsters use them to try and get hold of your details. They often include a link to a fake website, where you’ll be asked to enter your details. Even just clicking the link could activate a virus, so don’t open it, hit delete.

  • Phone scams

    Fraudsters use all sorts of cons over the phone and it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a cold call trying to sell you something and a scam. Never give your details to callers, however genuine they seem – and don’t be afraid to hang up and call the company back on their official phone number.

  • Identity theft

    Identity theft is when someone fraudulently uses another person’s identity. A fraudster may use your identity to gain access to your bank account, or to get credit such as a home loan, or credit card in your name.

  • Social media scams

    Social media scams are usually cunningly crafted by a scammer to appear genuine, using official brand logos, made up terms and conditions and include a link to enter your details. 
    Unbeknown to you, clicking on these links sends your personal information to third parties. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Investment scams

    Investment scams involve getting you or your business to part with money on the promise of questionable financial opportunity. Investment scams can come to you via a phone call, email or social media. In all investment scams, the money you ‘invest’ goes straight into the scammers bank account, not towards any real investment.

  • Romance scams

    Scammers will take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time. Once they have gained your trust, they will ask you for money, gifts or your personal data.

  • Family/friendly fraud

    No one wants to believe that a trusted family member or friend would ever scam you but children, siblings and even parents are known to steal credit card account numbers.
    It can be as simple as family members making purchases without your knowledge.

  • Elderly financial abuse

    Seniors are at greater risk of financial abuse. Someone may steal your money or property, fail to repay money you’ve lent them, or force you to give them money or sell your property for their benefit. Financial abuse might be unintentional, or explained away as ‘for their own good’.

  • Trial offers

    Many people have found themselves losing money every year by not reading the fine print of free trials. When it comes to signing up for a free trial, if a company requires you to provide them with your credit card number before the first shipment goes out, it can be a red flag that shows they intend to charge you in the future.


What to do if you think you've been scammed

  1. Stop contact

    If the sign-up process to get the free trial involves entering a credit card number, you’re likely to be signed up to an ongoing subscription without realising it.

  2. Contact your bank

    Some businesses make it tough to cancel a subscription by hiding the terms and conditions of their offers, using pre-checked sign-up boxes as the default setting online, and putting in strict terms and conditions which makes it hard to get out of.

  3. Don't pay more money

    Scammers will take advantage of people caught in recent scams by pretending to be a government agency who can return all your money for a fee. Don’t give any more money to the fraudster, or anyone who is claiming to help you for a fee.

  4. Protect yourself

    If you’ve given out personal information or if your computer or phone has been hacked, take action to protect yourself. Change passwords, making sure you have different passwords for each account. If your computer or phone has been hacked, take this to a professional to have it cleaned.

  5. Report it

    Reporting the scam is an important step in the process. Remember to also tell friends and family. It can be hard, but fraudsters rely on people keeping the scam a secret out of shame or embarrassment.

  6. Where to find help?