How to spot a financial scam

As more of us live our lives online and via our phones, scammers come up with new ways to manipulate people into handing over their money.

Learning how to spot a scam is the first step towards staying safe and keeping your money where it belongs.

Common scams

Types of common scams include:

  • emails claiming you’ve inherited money, won a prize or some other kind of windfall. They’ll quickly ask for payment of an upfront fee to access the money
  • selling tickets online for a sold-out event. The seller will usually ask for upfront payment outside of a site’s secure facilities
  • a demand for payment of bills, fines or debts (that aren’t real) with threats of legal action
  • posing as a fake or real charity and using emotional stories to ask for cash or credit card details
  • creating a fake romantic interest through online dating sites and asking for loans to pay for travel or medical treatment.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers can pose as an organisation you trust

Many scammers pose as large, well-known organisations or charities. They can look official simply by copying a company logo.

If you have a charity doorknocker or caller and you’re not sure, don’t be put on the spot and rushed into making a decision. Politely decline and ask about donating online through their secure site. If they bully you into immediate action, hang up or close the door. If you're at home and feel threatened, or the scammer won't leave, call the police.

Some scammers will send emails or make calls claiming to be from your bank. Don’t give out any personal information or open emails or attachments if they’re suspicious in any way. You may infect your computer or phone with a virus or install spyware that gives a scammer access to your financial and personal information.

Tip: If you want to check a call from your bank or another organisation is legitimate, don’t use a phone number provided by the caller. Look up the organisation yourself and get independent contact details.

Stay alert

You don’t need to be intimidated by scammers and feel like you can’t live your life. But be alert and aware of some common giveaways of scammer activity:

  • look for something that doesn’t add up – why would someone offer heavily discounted concert tickets for a sold-out event when they could resell legitimately for a higher price
  • no charity uses threats and intimidation to get donations
  • look for emails and social media messages that aren’t personalised, and have poor spelling and grammar.

Tip: Some scammers will send emails from an email address that includes the name of the organisation they are impersonating. This doesn't mean they are representing that brand.

Keeping your personal and financial information safe

Some simple ways to keep your information safe and avoid scammers include:

  • avoid providing personal or financial information, like bank account or credit card details over the phone, by email or via social media
  • don’t use public computers and Wi-Fi networks for sensitive banking or business information
  • make your online passwords strong, unique and update them regularly
  • keep your mobile phone and computer security software up to date
  • don’t open links or attachments in suspicious emails, texts or social media messages
  • look for secure online payment facilities – generally, the website address will start with ‘https’ and show a closed padlock in the URL bar
  • never send money, gift cards or other forms of payment if you feel pressured.

What to do if you’ve been targeted

If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam and may have lost some money, don’t be embarrassed. Scammers know how to press the right buttons to get the response they want from you. Stay calm, report the scam, and let your bank know.

Reporting the scam

You can report a scam to SCAMWATCH through the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) or to ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network). Your experience could help others.

Talk to your bank

You may be able to contact your bank to request a reversal or block a transaction if you pick it up as a scam soon enough. If you have a QBANK credit card, you can lock or unlock your card on the spot using the QBANK App.

Need help?

QBANK will never ask you for sensitive personal information via email. Talk to us about protecting your accounts from scams, and what to do if your credit card is targeted. Contact QBANK online or call 13 77 28.

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