How to know if you are being scammed

More than $10 million is being scammed each month from unsuspecting or vulnerable Australians.

Tax office refund scams, romance scams and parcel delivery scams are just a few that are destroying savings and even livelihoods.

Scammers often try to gather your personal details – including birth date, home address, tax file number or driver’s licence number – to commit their fraudulent activities.Credit:

The scams are often in the form of fraudsters intimidating people into making a fake debt payments over the phone or via email. Some even threaten you with arrest or jail.

Scammers also try to gather your personal details — including birth date, home address, tax file number or driver’s licence number — to commit their fraudulent activities.

They can use this information to make unauthorised purchases on your credit card, steal your identity to open bank accounts or phone services, or even take out loans in your name.

So, what are the most common types scams and the warning signs to look out for?

Tax refund scams

These generally involve the scammer telling you that you have overpaid your tax and are now entitled to a refund.

They will ask for your bank account details, claiming that this is for the purpose of transferring the money to you.

Tax owed scams

Scammers will claim you have underpaid your tax and you are now required to repay the debt.

They may ask for your credit card details or for you to pay the outstanding amount via a money transfer.

If they ask you to purchase a pre-paid debit card, international wire transfer or an iTunes voucher, this is certainly a fraud.

Phishing emails

Scammers try to steal your identity by sending you an email that pretends to be from a reputable source, such as the Australian Taxation Office or a utility bill provider.

They obtain details from you by asking you to fill out a form, or to click on a link that allows them to gain access to the contents of your computer by infecting it with viruses or malware.

You can report any unsolicited email claiming to be from the ATO by forwarding the entire email to [email protected]

The warnings signs

Look out for fake email addresses and spelling errors in the text of emails, as this is a clear sign of it being a scam.

Automated voice messages on your phone telling you have an outstanding debt is also almost certainly a scam.

Companies will never email you asking for personal or credit card details and you should never provide this information.

You should also never share your tax file number with anyone. It’s a rare occasion that you will need to provide it.

Typical situations where you do will include providing it to a new employer, opening a new bank account or when you are filling out your tax return.

How to protect yourself

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission's Moneysmart website has publicised lists of unlicensed companies that you shouldn’t deal with.

In addition, ScamWatch provide alerts on fraudulent activity as they are reported.

Change your passwords regularly, particularly if you have shared them with anyone — including friends or family.

Don’t be tempted to click on or open any attachments in suspicious emails, particularly from people you don't know, as they can contain viruses.

Always keep your computer security current and ensure you have a good anti-virus software that you have purchased from a reputable source.

Olivia Maragna is the co-founder of Aspire Retire Financial Services

Identity theft
False billing
Unexpected prize winnings
Tax refund
Upfront payments
Threats to life
Online shopping

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