Beware of online scams

Beware of online scams
Snr Sgt Alex OToole

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently revealed that Australians lost a record $3.1 billion to scams in 2022.

This represents an 80 per cent increase on total losses recorded in 2021. Phishing and online shopping scams are the two most common ways that criminals target victims.


Phishing is when a scammer pretends to be from a legitimate business (such as a bank or service provider). They then try to trick you into sharing personal information with them.

This can include your:

  • passwords
  • bank details
  • credit card numbers.

Scammers use personal details for criminal activities, such as stealing money from bank accounts.

You may be contacted by:

  • email
  • social media
  • phone call
  • text message.

Advice to protect yourself

Think before you click hyperlinks – don’t click links in emails or messages unless you know who the sender is. You can check where a hyperlink directs to by hovering your mouse over it. Don’t click on the link if you don’t recognise the website.

Check if emails and messages look legitimate – if you receive an email, text or social media message that you’re unsure about, check that:

  • it looks legitimate.
  • it is addressed to you.
  • it is from a real person or company.
  • there are no spelling mistakes.
  • there are no faded or blurry images or company logos.

If you are unsure if an email, text message or social media message is legitimate, you can:

  • look up the contact details of the person or company online.
  • call the person or company to confirm they contacted you.
  • If you think you have received a scam email, text message or social media message you can:
  • block the sender.
  • delete the message or email.

Online shopping scams

Online shopping scams happen when scammers pretend to be legitimate online sellers but have a fake website or products. Scammers may also have fake ads on real websites.

Advice to protect yourself ...

To help protect yourself from online shopping scams:

  • Be wary of the payment method requested for online stores. Scammers will often ask for payment through money order, a pre-loaded money card, Bitcoin or wire transfer.
  • Be wary of products advertised at a very low price.
  • Use safe payment methods such as POLi Payments and PayPal. These payment types allow you to challenge and recover funds in some circumstances.
  • Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • Do not pay unusually high delivery, courier, or freight fees, especially after you’ve paid for goods.

Selling your own items

If you are selling an item:

  • Do not hand over or post your item until funds from the buyer have cleared into your bank account.
  • Do not accept a courier to collect the item on behalf of the buyer.
  • Buying from online marketplaces
  • Do not buy items from an online marketplace without:
  • first viewing them
  • the items being placed in your hand first.

Find more information:

If you think you’ve been scammed

If you think you’ve been involved in an online shopping scam:

  • contact the retailer or auction service you used to report the scam.
  • contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible to dispute the transaction.
  • report the scam to the ACCC:
  • for problems with products from a private seller online, contact Consumer Affairs Victoria:

If your identity has been compromised

If you are concerned that your identity has been compromised through a phishing scam you can take the following steps:

  • Visit IDCARE ( or call 1800 595 160. IDCARE provides free, confidential advice to Australians who have concerns about their identity or cyber security.
  • Contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible to let them know.
  • Contact other service providers where your personal information could be used to access your accounts.
  • Change passwords to accounts that may have been compromised.

Report the incident through ReportCyber:

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