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Stay safe from scams

Learn how to spot a scam and avoid getting scammed online.

The number of scams in Victoria is growing.   

According to Scamwatch, Victorians lost more than $100 million in scams in 2023.  

Knowing how to identify and spot a scam is the best way to protect yourself from being scammed. 

While we may believe we could never fall for a scam, anyone can get scammed. 1 in 4 reported scams in Australia took place in Victoria. 

It’s more important than ever to learn how to stay safe from scams. Keep reading to learn the signs of a scam and practical ways to protect yourself online.  

What is a scam?

A scam is a type of trick designed to convince you to give away your money or personal information. Scams can occur both online and in person. In this article, we’ll focus on online scams. 

There are many ways someone running an online scam (a scammer) may try to reach out to you. For example: 

  • text messages
  • phone calls
  • emails
  • social media.

Scammers will try all types of things to get you to trust them. They could pretend to be someone you know, like a parent or friend, or a well-known organisation such as a:

  • government organisation. For example, the Australian Taxation Office. 
  • law enforcement agency. For example, the police. 
  • utility company. For example, an electricity company. 
  • investment and law firm 
  • bank 
  • telecommunications provider. For example, Telstra or Optus. 

They may even mention some personal details they already know about you, such as your name or bank.   

Why is it important to protect yourself from scams?

Australians lose millions of dollars to scams every year. 

One of the most serious consequences of scams is identity theft. This is when scammers steal your identity to gain access to your money, accounts or other benefits. 

For example, they could:

  • access your existing accounts, such as your bank account and government online services
  • open new accounts
  • take out loans in your name
  • sign contracts in your name.

Learning how to protect yourself from scams helps to keep your information, identity and money safe from scammers.

Common scams in Victoria

There are many types of online scams in Victoria. The most common ones to look out for are:

Text message (SMS) scams 

With this type of scam, scammers send a text message (SMS) pretending to be someone else. They’ll often include a hyperlink to a scam website hoping you’ll click it and provide your bank or personal details. 

Phone scams

If you’ve ever received a phone call from someone pretending to be someone else, it was likely a phone scam. Phone scams try to convince you to share your personal or financial details with the scammer, or give them remote access to your computer. 

Email scams 

A scam email is an email designed to look like it was sent by a legitimate organisation. It can be hard to tell that they’re fake because they’ll often have the real organisation’s logo or a similar email address to the real one. They may contain links or attachments that if clicked, will make it easy for scammers to steal your private information or money. 

Social media scams

Scammers may also use social media to trick you into handing over your important information. They often pretend to be an organisation or person you know by setting up fake profiles on social media channels, messaging platforms and apps. 

Website scams

Another common scam involves setting up a fake website that looks like a famous brand. Scammers may include fake reviews or testimonials from famous people to make the websites look more trustworthy.

Typical signs of a scam

Knowing how to identify scams will help you avoid them. Keep reading to discover the typical signs of a scam to look out for:

It sounds too good to be true

If someone contacts you about an incredible opportunity to make or save you money, it could be a scam. 

You’re asked to help someone you don’t know

A strong sign of a scam is if someone reaches out to you with a sad story asking you for financial help.

Scammers often use scam links or attachments in emails or texts to steal your information or money. 

You’re pressured to act quickly

As the above scenarios show, scammers often try to rush you to act. They do this so you don’t have time to think things through. They’ll try to catch you off guard by saying you’ll miss out on something. They may even say that something bad will happen if you don’t act soon.


  • a bank won’t ever ask you to urgently transfer funds. 
  • a government organisation won’t ever send a text message or email with a link to log into online services, such as myGov. 

You’re asked to pay in an unusual way

A key sign of a scam is that you’re asked to pay in an unusual way such as:

  • preloaded debit cards
  • iTunes gift cards
  • virtual currency (for example, Bitcoin).

The reason scammers ask you to use these payment methods is that once they've spent the money, it will be gone forever. These methods also make it easier for the scammers to remain untraceable.

You’re asked to set up PayIDs or new accounts

If someone asks you to make or receive a payment using PayID or by setting up a new bank account, proceed with caution. There are many ‘PayID scams’ around.  

PayID is a legitimate and free payment method that reduces the need to remember bank account and BSB numbers. It does this by allowing money to be transferred using a mobile number, email address, or ABN as the identifier linked to a bank account.   


  • When using PayID to pay for something, check that the account holder name matches the person you think you are paying.  
  • PayID will never contact you directly. 
  • PayID is a free service, so you will never be asked to ‘upgrade your PayID account’ or pay a fee to use PayID. 

Similarly, your bank will never contact you to open a new account to ‘keep your money safe’ or to make or receive a payment.  

Protect yourself from being scammed

It’s important to remember anyone can get scammed. Scams are becoming more sophisticated, and new types of scams are created every day. 

It’s up to all of us to take a proactive approach to protecting ourselves from scams.

The good news is that there are many easy and effective tips you can follow:


  • check if the sender is really who they say they are. You can do this by calling the organisation or person back on a phone number you have found yourself (on their website or in your contacts) to check if the message was real. 
  • search for the information or link yourself. You can do this by searching the organisation’s official website or using the official app or portal. 

Never automatically respond to messages


  • call the person or organisation back on a phone number you searched for yourself.

Don’t believe everything you read

Scammers may try to make you feel sorry for them so you’re more willing to help them. That’s why you should be cautious of any requests for money.

Never give more money than you’re willing to lose if you can’t confirm a request or story is true.

Trust your gut

If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you’re unsure, never share your money or personal information. It’s better to hang up or delete a message you’re suspicious of than risk being scammed. 

Scammers will try to use your good nature against you.

What should I do if I get scammed? 

Being scammed can be a scary and confusing experience that can happen to anyone.  

You may feel ashamed or guilty, which is a completely normal reaction. The best thing you can do is to stay calm and seek help as soon as possible. The quicker you act to stop a scam, the greater your chances of minimising the damage caused.

If you believe you’ve been scammed or something doesn’t feel 100% right, you can follow these 3 steps: 

1. Act immediately 

  • contact your bank: Tell your bank (or the financial institution you used to make the payments, like PayPal or Western Union) that you’ve been scammed and to stop any payments. 
  • stop sending money: Don’t send any more money until you’re 100% sure it's not a scam. 
  • change your passwords: If you think a scammer may have access to your online accounts, change the passwords for them straight away. If you’ve used the same password on multiple accounts, make sure to update those accounts too. You should also turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add extra security to your accounts.  
  • protect your identity: If you think a scammer may have stolen your identity, contact IDCARE. This is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support if your identity information has been compromised or misused. 

Watch out for follow up scams

Scammers often try to scam people again. If you’ve been scammed, keep a lookout for new scams, such as someone offering to help you get your money back.   

2. Get support  

Being scammed is a horrible experience. 

You may wish to talk to someone about your experience or get some additional guidance. Visit our Get support page for more resources to support you. 

3. Report the scam 

Once you’ve done the above, you may wish to report the scam to support services run by the Australian Government:  

  • ReportCyber: If you’ve lost personal information or money to a scam, you can report it to ReportCyber. You can also call them 24/7 on: 1300 292 371. Your report will be referred directly to the relevant law enforcement agency.

  • Scamwatch: If you report a suspected scam to Scamwatch, they’ll work with other organisations to remove the scam website, ads or contact details.  

Keep in mind that not all reports will be investigated by police. 
By reporting the scam, you’ll help stop scammers from scamming more people. You’ll also make it safer for all Victorians to use online services.