Email spam is often used to carry out fraud. Consumer scams are crimes of dishonesty such as forgery, counterfeiting, online deception and theft that are targeted at people who seek to purchase goods and services. Potential victims include anyone who uses phones, mobiles, computers or the internet. It pays to be suspicious of any offer that sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
This section provides information on:
- spyware and trojan horse viruses
- common scams
- what you can do if you receive a scam email
- government activities targeting consumer scams and fraud
- unauthorised use of your computer or email address by a third party known as Zombie computers or spoofing
Common scams to beware of and avoid include:
- 'Nigerian' scams – which appear to come from overseas and ask you to send money in return for a large lump sum being transferred to your bank account
- 'pump 'n' dump' stock scams – which are sent as spam emails claiming to be from a successful investor who has made huge profits investing in a particular stock, and needs to offload some of it
- ‘internet dumping’ - where some 'free' adult sites download automatic internet diallers that clock up a huge phone bill without your knowledge
- work-at-home schemes, lottery wins and prizes that require you to send money before claiming them
- pharmaceutical scams - offering ‘amazing' products that claim to boost your health, appearance or virility.
- phishing emails that are sent from falsified or 'spoofed' email addresses. Many phishing emails often claim to be from a bank, online retailer or credit card company. These emails direct recipients to a website that looks like the real website of a retailer or financial institution, which is designed to encourage the visitor to reveal financial details such as credit card numbers, account names and passwords or other personal information.
As part of a whole of government approach to combat consumer fraud and scams targeted at consumers, the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce was established in March 2005. It is made up of 18 government regulatory agencies and departments in Australia and New Zealand.
Further information about scams and the work of the Taskforce, is at www.scamwatch.gov.au.
Further information about government and initiatives targeting scams and fraud is available from:
- the ACMA’s Protecting yourself online page
- the Commonwealth Treasury’s Little Black Book of Scams
- the Australian Internet Industry Association security website
- the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner
- the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- the Australian Securities or Investments Commission