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Protecting yourself from scams

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scams are attempts by criminals to purposefully and maliciously mislead you in order to get your money. Everyone is a potential target because scammers don’t discriminate, and will target people of any gender, age-group or socio-economic background.

Common types of scams

While this is not an exhaustive list, the following should give you an idea of some common scams to watch out for, some tips on how you can spot them and suggestions for steps you might consider taking.

Typically, the scammer will phone you and pretend to be a staff member from a large telecommunications or technology organisation.  They may claim your internet connection has been hacked or your security has been compromised and your assistance is required with an investigation.

Normally, the real organisations will not make unsolicited calls or ask you to install software in order to access your computer device remotely. These agencies will also not ask you to purchase gift cards or vouchers to pay for debts or transfer funds to offshore accounts for the purposes of assisting with an investigation.

Here are some precautions to reduce your risk of falling victim to a remote access scam:

  1. Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
  2. If you receive an unsolicited call about your computer and remote access is requested – hang up – even if they mention they are calling from the ‘security’ division of a well-known telecommunications or technology organisation.
  3. Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall.

If you’re a business, a scammer posing as a supplier or vendor may email you to advise their banking details have changed. They will provide you with a new bank account number and ask that all future payments are processed to the new account.  

A business may also receive an invoice from a supplier or vendor whose email account may have been compromised.  The invoice will look legitimate so will not be questioned, with payment made to the criminal’s account.

In other variations of the scam, the cyber-criminal will send an email internally to a company’s accounts team, pretending to be a senior executive such as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO), requesting an urgent transfer of funds in the hope the recipient will respond swiftly without verifying the request. Cyber criminals can also request salary or rental payments be directed to a new account.

Here are some steps that might help protect yourself and your business against email compromise:

  1. Ensure you have a process in place for employees to identify and action suspicious emails, texts or phone calls.  If you receive a suspicious email, share it with staff to ensure they understand what to look for.
  2. Pause before responding. If it doesn’t seem right, or is unexpected, question it – even if it appears to be from someone senior in your business.  Use the contact details on the company’s official website to call and verify vendor or supplier requests.
  3. Install antivirus software on all computers used by yourself or the business and keep it up-to-date.
  4. Activate two-factor authentication (2FA), as well as a strong password to protect the security of your email account.  2FA adds an extra layer of security, and stops criminals getting into your account even if they guess or steal your password.
  5. Ensure you have a secondary authoriser in place for all payments.

For more information on BEC scams and other preventative steps you can take please click here.

Read more on an ANZ media release.

A friend request on Facebook or a message on a dating site or app from someone you don’t know might be the start of a romance scam. The scammer uses a false identity to capture your interest, and builds an emotional connection over a period of time by revealing personal information, sending you gifts or promising to visit you.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they are likely to ask you for money either directly or more subtly, for instance by telling you that they require urgent funds to evade prosecution in another country or have a sick relative who needs funds for medical treatment. They may use fictitious names and often claim to be from Australia but working overseas.

Read more on an ANZ media release.

Investment scams involve getting you or your business to send money on the promise of financial opportunity. The scammers will often call or email you claiming to be a stock broker or portfolio manager and offer low-risk investments with high returns.

To reduce the risk of your falling for an investment scam, we recommend that you perform sufficient checks before giving your details to an unsolicited caller or reply to emails offering financial advice or urgent investment opportunities. You should make your own reasonable enquiries and check if a financial adviser is registered via the ASIC website and check ASIC’s list of companies you should not deal with. If the company that is asking for your investment is on the list – do not deal with them.

A phishing scam is when you receive a hoax email, text or social media post that looks like it's come from a legitimate company like your bank, mobile phone or internet service provider.

The phishing scammer wants to trick you into giving them your personal information such as your password, bank account or credit card number. Be extra diligent if you receive an email that:  

  • asks you to verify details like your Customer Registration Number, username, password or PIN
  • gets you to fill out your personal details for a survey, in exchange for a prize
  • claims to alert you to suspicious activity on your bank account and asks you to log in using a link in the email
  • is not addressing you by name at the start of the message
  • includes a sense of urgency, claiming that your immediate attention is needed
  • has an email address that doesn’t look quite right
  • asks to click on a links or open an attachments

Pause before responding. If it doesn’t seem right, or is unexpected, question it.  Use the contact details on the company’s official website to call and verify any suspicious or unusual requests.

Remember - ANZ will never send you an email asking for your account details, financial details, or your log in details for ANZ Phone Banking, ANZ Mobile Banking or ANZ Internet Banking.

You might see a professional-looking advertisement for a job as a ‘money transfer agent’. As an ‘employee’, you’re asked to use your own bank account to transfer money overseas from ‘sales’ in Australia – and you’re promised a percentage of the transfer commission. What you may actually be doing is transferring stolen money, most often to Eastern European countries.

Unexpected winnings

Someone contacts you (via phone, text, email, letter or social media message) to tell you that you have won an online competition or lottery draw. But before you can get your prize money, you’ll have to pay a fee to claim your prize. The prize money doesn’t exist and the funds you’ve sent are lost.


Inheritance scams

Someone claiming to be a lawyer gets in touch with you, letting you know that you’re the last living relative of a wealthy person who’s passed away. You're entitled to inherit their fortune, but in order to receive it you need to pay some legal fees. In reality, there is no inheritance and the money you send goes straight to the scammers.


Classified ads

Sellers post classified ads for items such as pets, cars, bikes and rental properties. These ads look legitimate with detailed information, attractive photos and a great offer of a low price.

If you contact the seller, they may claim to be travelling or say they’ve moved overseas recently. They then may say that an agent give you the goods once they get your payment. You pay them and get sent a professional-looking email receipt, but your goods never arrive and the seller disappears, with you having no way to contact them.

For more resources

We're working every day to help keep you secure online, however it's also your responsibility to keep yourself secure. With new scams regularly surfacing, it’s important to educate yourself on the most common types of scams so you know what to look out for. To help you, here are some suggestions of simple steps you can take to further improve your level of security:

  • Call out anything suspicious relating to your ANZ banking by reporting it to us and report wider concerns to Scamwatch
  • Learn about the different types of scams, how to protect yourself from them and sign up for alerts from the ACCC’s Scamwatch and Stay Smart Online
  • If an email, call or SMS seems unusual, check it through official contact points (e.g. published phone number) before acting (e.g. clicking on links, opening attachments or following any payment instructions)
  • Type website addresses into your browser’s address bar rather than clicking on any links that you’ve been sent
  • If you’ve changed your number, lost your phone or are planning to travel overseas let us know (Personal Banking or Business) so we can try to tell you about any unusual account activity

Click here to download a flyer on protecting yourself from scams.

Click here to download the ACCC’s Little Black Book of Scams.

Spot the red flags and think twice

  • Do you know the person you’re sending funds to?
  • Have you been asked to send funds for a transaction that you didn’t commence?
  • Have you been asked to receive and send funds on behalf of a third party?
  • Do you understand the reason you are sending funds?

Learn more about scams from the Australian Federal Police

Learn more

The information on this page does not take into account your personal needs and financial circumstances and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you and read the relevant terms and conditionsProduct Disclosure Statement and the ANZ Financial Services Guide (PDF) before acquiring any product. 

Applications for credit subject to approval. Terms and conditions available on application. Fees and charges apply. Australian credit licence number 234527.