As the amount of daily business we do online increases, so does the risk of scams. Scammers try to trick people to part with money or personal information. Older people are often targeted, due to perceptions they are vulnerable and not savvy with technology.

  • Scammers could be based in Australia or overseas.
  • They contact telephone numbers or emails randomly with a story.
  • They might have some of your personal information and seem genuine, to trick you into giving more information about yourself.
  • They might offer you a job, claim you have inherited money from an unknown relative, claim to be from a charity, or offer you a ‘too good to be true’ investment or other opportunity.


Common Telephone Scams:

An Australian Tax Office (ATO) scam seeking urgent payment of a fine for an incomplete or inaccurate tax return.

  • Scammers threaten court action or police arrest if money is not immediately transferred to pay a fine or debt.
  • Scammers pressure for an urgent response, giving victims little time to consider the situation carefully.

Remember: The ATO does not phone clients; they communicate in writing.

A scam seeking intrusive questions about your personal life to see if you qualify for a special tax or other incentive.

  • The caller might have basic information about you.
  • Scammers try to gain further information to access your personal information
  • The caller might be pushy or rude if you hesitate or ask questions.

A call from Microsoft about a virus on your computer.

  • The caller might try to access your computer to remove a virus.
  • They might ask you to enter a website and accept remote access, allowing them onto your computer to fix it.
  • The scammer can then plant a virus to steal your information e.g. bank account passwords, email logins, information they could use for blackmail.


Common Online Scams:

Winning the lottery or a prize in a draw that you might not have entered.

  • Claiming the prize might require payment, providing your identification details or calling a number starting with 190 at high cost

Receiving money from strangers.

  • Scammers might ask you to receive a large payment which will usually require you to pay bank fees to their bank account.

Online romance scams.

  • Scammers might pose as an attractive person that falls in love with you.
  • After winning your trust, they will tell you a sad story about why they need money and ask you to transfer it to them.


Tips to Protect Yourself:

  • Ask the caller who they are and where they are calling from and for a return phone number.
  • Do your own research about what callers are saying or selling
  • Search the details on the internet with the word ‘scam’ to see if anyone else has had the same experience, or contact SCAMWATCH
  • Do not give personal information without verifying who you are speaking to and check the details provided match the website of the agency the caller claims to be from.  Contact the organisation to check.
  • Do not open suspicious emails or answer suspicious texts
  • Put your name on a ‘Do not call’ register
  • Make sure computer passwords are complex and never give the details out

Remember – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is! 

What to do if you are scammed:

  • Contact the Police
  • Contact SCAMWATCH
  • Alert your bank
  • Get a copy of your credit report and alert credit reporting agencies
  • Close any unauthorised account you become aware of
  • Change your passwords or PIN
  • Notify affected agencies e.g. the ATO
  • Seek legal advice
  • Seek counselling/support

Useful contacts:

Darwin Community Legal Service Inc

Phone:             (08) 8982 1111    Freecall:     1800 812 953



Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) – SCAMWATCH


iDCARE 1300 432 273


Darwin Community Legal Service 2015: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2014.

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