As the world continues to evolve, bad actors are developing new scams to catch unsuspecting people and take their money. While there are a number of types of scams that are always running, there are also red flags you can keep an eye out for.
To give you the information you need to avoid being scammed, we’ve looked at the most common types of scams you might come across, and how you can best protect yourself from these. The more informed you are, the less likely you’ll fall victim to one of these traps.
1. Phishing scams
"In 2022, 74,566 phishing scams were reported to Scamwatch1."
Phishing scams are usually enacted through email, social media or via SMS, and involve scammers using messages with malicious links designed to steal your usernames, passwords and other sensitive information. They will often design these messages to look like they’ve come from reputable organisations.
Before opening a link, you should check things like:
- The email domain – did it come from a recognisable domain, or somewhere different?
- Is the grammar/spelling in the message correct, or are there misspellings/incorrect grammar?
- What are they asking for? If they ask for gift cards/other forms of payment other than money, it’s likely a scam
- Were you expecting an email from the sender, or is it unexpected?
- Do you recognise the URL that has been sent?
If you’re not sure about whether a message is legitimate, then it’s worth reaching out to the organisation that it appears has sent it to you. Taking those extra minutes to confirm that it is a genuine piece of correspondence can save you a lot of headaches, as accidentally handing over your information to scammers can cause a lot of problems going forward.
2. Investment scams
“Australians lost over $115 million2 to investment scams”
Investment scams work because they often seem too good to be true – and they are. Investment scams promise high returns, but the money you hand over to the scammer doesn’t get invested. Instead, they take it and disappear forever.
The ACCC reported that between January and April 2023 Australians lost over $115 million2 to investment scams. If someone is pushing you to make an investment decision quickly, and they’ve contacted you out of the blue, then it’s worth being wary of their claims – especially if they’re promising the world.
You can protect yourself from investment scams by only speaking to trusted financial advisors, and ensuring they have An Australian Financial Services (AFS) license. It’s also worth asking for an investment prospectus from any company you’re considering working with on investing, but reach out via different channels to your established communication pathway/s so you can get a better sense of the company and their operating style.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) requires that disclosure documents, like investment prospectuses, are registered with them before they are provided to potential investors.
3. Online marketplace scams
Buying things online is a great way to find a bargain, but it is also a scammer’s playground. If you’re selling an item, scammers will request that you send the item before they’ve paid for it (and subsequently disappear when you follow up), and if you’re buying an item, scammers may request a non-refundable deposit or provide you with an item that’s markedly different to what you thought you were getting.
If you are making online purchases through platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace, it’s always worth going to inspect item/s in person where possible. Alternatively, consider using payment platforms like PayPal, which has Buyer Protection and Seller Protection. These measures can come in handy if an online transaction does not eventuate as expected.
4. Employment scams
Employment scams typically target young people seeking work. Scammers will go with a wide-spread approach, contacting people to ask for a payment to guarantee that they will get a job. These jobs usually involve little-to-no work and high pay, and can even involve recruiting other people into the same scam. Employment scams may also pop up on websites like Indeed, Seek and LinkedIn, as these are high-traffic places that job seekers frequently visit.
Another version of the scam includes scammers wanting to use your bank account to send money to a foreign company, claiming that they will give you some of the proceeds. This is often tied to money laundering or other illegal activity. Both versions of the scams will involve promises of payment for no effort – and, as with some of these other scams, some things are too good to be true.
5. Scams involving virtual currency and cryptocurrency
The rise of virtual currencies and cryptocurrencies has led to a new type of scam, as it is typically harder to track and retrieve money virtually once it’s been sent to another party. These scams can often involve investing in a fake cryptocurrency exchange, app or website – and once you’ve invested, your money disappears.
Another type of crypto scam is scammers using the names of established/notable businesses and telling would-be investors that the company is launching their own cryptocurrency/exchange. They use the brand’s prestige to take people’s money, before once again disappearing. If someone wants you to pay them in cryptocurrency, and cryptocurrency only, then you should be on high alert. As always, if your gut says something is off, then it’s worth taking a few extra moments to investigate.
Stay smarter than a scammer
Want to learn more about how you can keep an eye out for scams? Visit our Fraud & Security hub to explore our extensive resources and find out how you can protect yourself. If you’re a Qudos Bank member and you want to report a scam, you can contact us on 1300 747 747.
The information on this page is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for personal advice. This information has been produced without taking into account your personal financial circumstances, objectives or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information to your financial situation and seek personal advice before acting on any of this information.
Qudos Mutual Limited trading as Qudos Bank ABN 53 087 650 557 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238 305.
 Scam statistics | Scamwatch (https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/scam-statistics?scamid=24&date=2023 )
 Australians are losing more money to investment scams | ACCC (https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/australians-are-losing-more-money-to-investment-scams)
Published May 2023