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A scam for all seasons: How to spot a scam and stay safe

21 September 2023
• 3 minute read
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Like pollen to a hay fever sufferer, scams seem to be everywhere right now.

And whether you’re looking to buy Claratyne online or looking for love, there’s a scam ready to steal more than your heart.

But there are easy ways to avoid being scammed. You just need to know what to look for and, as the saying goes, ‘be alert, not alarmed’.

So, let’s check out some common examples of scams and how you can spot a scam before it’s too late.

Types of scams

In the good old days, scams were only something to be wary of as an unsuspecting tourist in a foreign land. Today, scams can reach you wherever you are, even in your own home.

Here are some common scams we’re seeing and the warning signs to look out for.

For the nitty gritty on these scams and many others, including what to do if you’ve been scammed, visit our Common Scams webpage.

Investment scams

Everyone wants to make extra money. And if an opportunity for quick and easy cash arises, well, our eyes light up like a kid at Christmas.

If you’re contacted about an investment opportunity with higher-than-average returns, slick website and slicker celebrity endorsements, be cautious.

Investment scammers can also lure unsuspecting people with cryptocurrency ‘opportunities’. Check out for a detailed guide on avoiding crypto scams.

Investment scam warning signs

  • The promise of high returns with little to no risk.
  • High-pressure sales tactics such as a limited time or secret offer.
  • The offer seems too good to be true.

How to protect yourself from an investment scam

  • Never commit to investing on the spot.
  • Seek professional advice from a financial advisor who is registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) before investing.
  • Don’t follow any scripts or instructions on what to tell your bank, friends or family.

Romance scams

It’s sad but true that scammers are willing to manipulate your emotions for personal gain.

With online dating and social media the main ways people meet in 2023, scammers are using these platforms to win the trust of people looking for love before asking for financial ‘help’.

Romance scam warning signs

  • They’re in financial hardship (for any number of reasons).
  • There have been threats to their safety.
  • They need money to cover flights and travel expenses to come to Australia.

How to protect yourself from a romance scam

  • Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
  • Be wary of sending money overseas as it’s very difficult to recover once it’s sent.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. If they threaten to break up with you, that says a lot about them.

Phishing scams

Phishing is when cyber criminals use methods like email and SMS to steal your personal information. Often, these scammers try to entice you to disclose your online banking details by pretending to represent your bank. It’s an elaborate ruse so they can access your accounts.

Phishing scam warning signs

  • The message is unsolicited and unexpected.
  • You’re asked to update or verify details that your bank should already have on file.
  • The message has spelling errors, typos or poor grammar.

How to protect yourself from a phishing scam

  • Never provide your bank details or personal information in response to an unsolicited request.
  • Always navigate to online banking yourself. Don’t use links in emails or SMS messages.
  • Delete suspicious messages immediately.
  • Don’t call any numbers listed in the email or text message, they are likely to be fake.

Learn more about scams

Our Common Scams webpage is a fantastic source of information on the latest scamming examples. It tells you what to look out for and what to do if you’ve been scammed.

Remember, scammers are on the hunt year-round and their methods change almost as regularly as the seasons. The best defence against scams is to arm yourself with the knowledge to spot them.

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