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A woman typing on a laptop; image used for HSBC Common types of fraud and scams.

Common types of fraud and scams

There are lots of ways you can protect yourself against fraud and scams, but knowledge and being aware are key.

How you may be targeted

Criminals try to steal your personal details through various ways using existing technology. Beware of:

  • Email scams (Phishing)
  • SMS scams (Smishing)
  • Voice scams (Vishing)

For more information on ways to protect your personal details, please visit our Cyber Awareness page.

Remember scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to target potential victims so it's important you keep vigilant and informed. You can visit scamwatch.gov.au to keep up to date with the latest scams.

Common Scams/Frauds

Romance scams

Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. These scammers play on your emotions to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. Many times victims are too embarrassed about their loss to report the crime.

Typical scenario:

A stranger strike up a conversation with some form of mutual interest or suggests you may have similar hobbies. They then suggest chatting privately outside of dating websites or apps e.g. social media/email. Often, what they tell you in private does not match their public profile. They work to gain your trust (sometimes over several months) and then tell you an elaborate story asking you to provide money, gifts, or personal details such as bank account or credit card details.

Signs to watch out for:

  • They may be reluctant to meet in person, and will provide excuses why they are unavailable.
  • Their messages will often be poorly written and in most cases, escalate quickly into professing their love for you.

Remote access scams

Criminals might reach out to you posing as a legitimate business or provider, often claiming to be there to protect you from fraud or scams. They create a feeling of urgency and danger to try and get you to do things that could compromise your bank details so they can steal money from your accounts.

Typical scenario:

A fraudster calls, impersonating your internet provider. They tell you that you have some connection problems or your bill is overdue and while on the line they may request remote access to your computer and for you to do things like make an immediate payment through your internet banking. The fraudster then has the opportunity to steal your banking details and move money out of your account or convince you to transfer funds to a false account.

Signs to watch out for:

  • This provider doesn't usually contact you in this manner.
  • The story/scenario they are telling you seems unlikely or abnormal somehow.
  • They make requests that seem unrelated to the conversation.

Account takeover fraud

This growing crime is a form of identity theft. Scammers typically try to find out your personal or security details, such as your date of birth, spending activities or where you opened your account. Equipped with this knowledge, they assume your identity and begin communicating with your bank to gain access to your accounts and funds.

Typical scenario:

A criminal steals your personal details through digital (stalking your social media) or physical means (i.e. mail theft). Using the compromised details, they successfully convince your bank that they are you, and then change your contact details such as your email or mobile number to ones they control, so they have unlimited access to your accounts.

Signs to watch out for:

  • Sharing too many personal details on social media.
  • Missing or delayed letters you were expecting to receive from your bank.
  • Unknown businesses or services calling you and requesting personal details.

Rental scams

Scammers advertise on real estate or classified websites or target people who have posted on social media that they are looking for a place to live. They use fake rental properties to convince you to handing over money or personal information. When you arrive at the property after paying an upfront deposit, you discover that the property does not exist or is already occupied.

Typical scenario:

The scammer posts an ad offering reduced rents due to COVID-19. If you respond, the scammer says that because of the current restrictions, you won't be able to inspect the property in person. They then try to convince you to transfer money to secure the property with an upfront deposit.

Sometimes the scammer will also phish for personal information using a 'tenant application form', which requires copies of your identity documents such as passport, bank statements or payslips (as you would provide as part of a legitimate tenant application). Providing this information results in loss of personal information putting you at risk of further scams, including a high risk of identity theft.

They promise the keys will be provided after payment or after the information is provided. Sadly, the keys never arrive and the scammer disappears from communication.

What can you do to protect yourself:

  • Always try and view a property before paying a bond or any rent.
  • If it is not possible (due to Government imposed restrictions) to inspect, do an online search to confirm the property exists and to check if the agent you are dealing with is licensed.
  • Some scammers even impersonate real estate agents and will organise a (fake) inspection. Do an internet search of the property to get the property manager's contact number and speak to them over the phone, or better yet, arrange to meet them in person (if possible).

Puppy scam

Scammers take advantage of people who are looking to own a pet but are stuck at home due to COVID-19 restrictions. The scammer will set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and social media, pretending to sell popular dog breeds (like cavoodles and French bulldogs) at discounted rates. The scam websites can look very convincing. Most victims contact the scammers via an email address they have found online.

Typical scenario

The scammer will offer the pet for sale at much lower price than normal (for a breed) and will take advantage of the fact that you can't travel to meet the puppy in person. They usually request a money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you. The scammer will then try and find new ways to ask for more money, such as claiming higher transportation costs or additional fees for 'coronavirus treatments'. But once you make the payments, the seller stops contacting you.

What can you do to protect yourself:

  • The safest thing is to only adopt (or buy) a pet you can meet in person. If that's not possible due to current restrictions, consider not getting a pet just yet – wait until you can meet them in person.
  • Do an internet search of the exact wording in the ad and try and do a reverse image search of the specific puppy you are looking at. If you find matching text or images on multiple sites then it is likely you are dealing with a scammer.
  • If in doubt, seek advice from a reputable breeders' association, vet, shelter or local pet shop.

Have you been a victim of a scam or fraud?

If you think you've fallen for any scam, or you believe your security has been compromised, or you notice a transaction you did not make:

Contact HSBC immediately on (+612) 9005 8220 or visit your nearest HSBC branch.

 

Report the situation to the following government agencies:

If you suspect you have been the target of fraud or scams, or your identity has been stolen or compromised in any way, it is also recommended you report this to:

  • the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network at acorn.gov.au
  • IDCARE on 1300 432 273 or via http://www.idcare.org. IDCARE is a free, Government-funded service that provides support to victims of identity crime to help them plan a response when they have had their personal information taken
  • scamwatch.gov.au
  • your local police on 131 444

You might be interested in

 

Here's how you can keep yourself safe from financial crime.

 

A look at some of the most common scams related to COVID-19.

 

Tips to protect yourself from elder financial abuse.

 

Learn more about how we can help.