The top three online scams you need to be cautious about

The ACCC has revealed its list of tricks most likely to catch unwary Aussies.

Top three online scams revealed

The online sphere – email, the internet, social media and mobile apps – has overtaken telephones as scammers’ preferred tool of the trade to contact potential victims.

So far in 2017, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch site has received more than 51,000 reports of scammers trying to con people online.

Online scam losses have totalled nearly $37 million so far in 2017, with people aged 45 to 54 most likely to lose money.

“It’s difficult to spot a scammer online these days as they go to great lengths to trick the public and steal personal information and money,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

The top three online scams that people are most likely to encounter are:

  • Phishing – often delivered via email, scammers will pretend to be from well-known businesses and government departments to con unsuspecting victims out of their personal information and money. For example, they might say they’re from Apple and you need to reset your password for security reasons, or they may offer you a gift voucher to a major supermarket for completing a ‘survey’.
  • False billing – scammers will pretend to be from a utility provider such as your phone or energy company, and send you a fake bill. These scams can be very hard to pick as the fake bills scammers send look authentic.
  • Buying and selling – scammers will trick people who are looking to buy or sell goods online. For example, they may set up a fake online store that sells well-known brands at seemingly too-good-to-be-true prices; or they may set up a fake listing on a classifieds website.

Ms Rickard said there are some simple techniques that members of the public can employ to avoid being stung by an online scammer.

“While scammers are often after your money, they’re also trying to steal your personal information, which is just as valuable. It’s important to safeguard your personal details online the same way you would your wallet,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you’re ever contacted out of the blue, particularly via email, by someone asking you to pay a bill, complete a survey or update your passwords, it pays to be sceptical.

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of something online like a store, classified listing or email you receive, do your own research, as others who have been stung by scammers will often post warnings for others. There are also plenty of very useful tips and advice at to avoid being stung by online scams,” Ms Rickard said.



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    11th Oct 2017
    Yesterday I recieved 3 emails all to do with traffic fines, ofcourse this is a scam but it is also upsetting if you share a car and not sure about where your car may have been, although I new my car was not in Canberra, secondly you can UNSUBSCRIBE, if these trafic fine are real then you wouldn't be able to unsubscribe from their list.
    11th Oct 2017
    That one is doing the rounds at the moment.....I have had six, and friends have had them as well..........funny........I didn't take the car out on the days mentioned!
    11th Oct 2017
    I received 2 of these.
    11th Oct 2017
    I've tried unsubscribing from numerous nuisance websites and more often than not it doesn't work!
    12th Oct 2017
    Me to....
    11th Oct 2017
    I have read where the NSW Government is starting to issue infringement notices via emails and smart phones, and failing to pay will cost you your license. The NSW Gov is saving money by not using paper post. WELL SINCE THEN I HAVE HAD NUMEROUS DODGY INFRINGEMENT NOTICES SENT TO MY EMAIL. Good one NSW GOV, How many elderly drivers will be caught by this scam all because the NSW GOV is too lazy to do its job
    11th Oct 2017
    Don't expect anything better from an incompetent scumbag Lieberal/Coalition government!
    11th Oct 2017
    The emailing of infringements only happen if YOU agree for it to be issued by email. You must have had face to face contact with the issuing officer hence YOU WILL KNOW if the infringement will be coming.
    11th Oct 2017
    What I realised is that I have 2 cars registered in my name and there was no registration number.
    As for sending infringment notices via email I think you would have a good case against not paying although one would think you would do some homework and Phone to check.
    11th Oct 2017
    I had a call yesterday from 'Telstra' saying I haven't made many calls in the past few months and they would like to offer a refund of $89.00 !! I am not even with Telstra. I told the Indian fellow to get lost in no uncertain terms, before he even asked for my account number for transfer of money.
    11th Oct 2017
    On email:
    The gift voucher from a well known supermarket, does the rounds a fair bit.
    Banks I don't have an account with, inquiring about my account.
    Fake Paypal account messages.
    Fake remember me, from an old girlfriend with a common first name.

    I don't think there is a week where I DONT see at least one of these.
    11th Oct 2017
    I had an email from ?who in QLD who said I needed to reclaim $1375 from my account or I would lose it. I have no such account. There was a street address in this email so I looked for it on Google Earth out of curiosity. The name of the town (hamlet!) existed, but not the street. This hamlet was in the middle of a huge forest with only a couple of houses!

    11th Oct 2017
    Add Crowd Funding to the list
    It’s becoming a joke
    11th Oct 2017
    Selling my caravan on Gumtree. Received a reply from MATTHEW WEBSTER.
    Said he was deployed to Darwin in the Australian Army. But he would buy the caravan sight unseen and pay via paypal. He would then send a courier to pick it up and deliver it to him in Darwin. I googled "matthew webster scammer" and guess what, SCAMMER. They had other posts regarding him under different email addresses and asked me to list his details. He is not too fussy his other scams were for cars, boats and all were word for word the same as my email.

    11th Oct 2017
    Some scammers are 'legitimate' companies, who will use shady methods to extract money from you. Vodafone come to mind. AVOID VODAFONE LIKE THE PLAGUE!
    12th Oct 2017
    You mean like the supposed Telstra/Microsoft calls telling you your computer has a virus?

    How are Vodafone trying to get money from you? I'm interested because I am with Vodafone and have actually never had an issue with them (except their website which can be very temperamental:-)).
    12th Oct 2017
    FrankC, I also had an Asian person tell me that Telstra wanted to give me $89 - as if! I was wondering though as I had been away for several weeks and not used my landline. Could they have found that out??

    I also have Woolies trying to throw money at me - $2000, and $400 - again, is that likely??!!
    13th Oct 2017
    VIAGOGO never ever have anything to do with this booking site.
    I was scammed re theatre tickets paying $520-double the price

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