Scams and fraud | ACMA

Scams and fraud

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. Scams can be carried out by phone, mobile, email or SMS.

If an offer sounds too good to be true—it probably is … and may be a scam.

Common scams

Common scams to beware of and avoid include:

  • phishing emails—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
  • 'Nigerian' scams—appear to come from overseas and ask you to send money in return for a large lump sum being transferred to your bank account
  • work-at-home schemes, lottery wins and prizes—that require you to send money before claiming them
  • pharmaceutical scams—offer 'amazing' products that claim to boost your health, appearance or virility
  • technical support scam calls—suggest that your computer has a virus and that the caller can protect your computer if you purchase their software.

What should I do if I receive scam call, email or SMS?

  • hang up
  • ignore, report and delete suspicious emails
  • never open an attachment or click on a link unless you are expecting the message or recognise the sender.

How can I protect myself from phone and email scams?

  • be suspicious of unexpected calls, SMS or emails
  • don’t give your number or email address to just anyone.

Should I complain about phone and email scams?


You can report any type of scam to SCAMwatch by visiting

You can also make a complaint to ACMA about scam emails, SMS and phone calls, if you think they may be breaking Australian spam and telemarketing laws.

Even in circumstances where the caller or sender is not easily identifiable, the information in complaints can be useful. It is added to our intelligence database, where it is collated and matched against other information we hold.

More information

Further information about government initiatives targeting scams and fraud is available from:

Last updated: 15 January 2019