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How to protect yourself from financial scams

Maria Papa
Maria Papa

BY MARIA PAPA – Australians are losing half a billion dollars to financial scams. According to SCAMwatch, Australians are expected to lose over $532 million to scams in 2019. In 2018, Australians have lost $489 million to financial scams. So what are these different scams and how can Australians protect themselves from these scams?

Unexpected money or winnings

Do you get those emails telling you that you’ve won a lottery or a competition that you never entered at all? Don’t be lured by these surprise wins. This scam is trying to trick you into giving your money upfront or your personal information in order to receive the prize from the lottery or competition.

Credit card scams

Have you been contacted online or by phone pretending to be your bank or another company and tricking you into giving them your credit card details?  Credit card scams involves your card details being used by someone else to make online and over the phone transactions. These transactions do not need a physical card, a PIN or a signature. Scammers can also use your credit card data to make a counterfeit card or they can apply for a credit card in your name, using your personal details and then use it to make purchases and cash advances

ATO Phone scams

Scammers send unsolicited pre-recorded messages (pretending to be from the ATO) to your phone demanding payments and threatening you with immediate arrest. They do this to instil fear. They request payment by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency either directly or deposited into an ATM.

Investment scams

Scammers make unsolicited calls or emails, offering you a great investment opportunity. What these callers are doing is trying to take your money. A scammer will offer you high, quick returns and sometimes tax-free benefits. Scammers use pressure and fear tactics combined with technology to trick people to part with their money.

Types of investment scams include investment offers that are completely fake and do not exist, or they do exist but your money does not go towards the investment or the scammer claims to represent a well-known company but they’re lying.

Dating and romance scams

Scammers take advantage of vulnerable and lonely people looking for romantic partners through dating websites, chat rooms, apps or social media. They play on their victim’s emotions to get them to provide money, gifts or personal details. If you find yourself in an online relationship with someone who ask for money in the form of a loan to be paid back, then that person you’ve met is a scammer. These scammers use the identity of a real person to seem authentic and they send fake photos and contact information.

How do you protect yourself from these financial scams?

  1. Keep yourself safe when banking online by not sharing your online banking login details with anyone – including third party applications like budgeting apps, logging you’re your bank’s website and not use links from other sites or emails and by choosing a strong, secure password which you change and update regularly.
  2. Report ATO impersonation scams
  3. Delete spam and scam emails
  4. Keep your anti-virus and firewall software up to date
  5. Do not respond to requests that ask you to call unknown or unverified phone numbers
  6. Check ASIC’s list of companies you should not deal with. If the company that contacted you is on the list – do not deal with them. Even if they are not listed, continue researching and speak to a financial advisor before investing.
  7. Always get independent financial advice before you invest
  8. Don’t accept a message or friend request on social media from someone you do not know
  9. Be suspicious if anyone is offering you easy money. Remember, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is

This article provides general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product.  It does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice and you should always seek professional advice in relation to your individual circumstances.

MBM Mortgage Pty Ltd trading as Maverick Finance | ABN 28 149 301 084 | Credit Representative Number 403019 is authorised under Credit License Number 389328

Maria Papa is a senior finance expert specialising in home loans, investment loans, self-employed loans, Alt Doc loans, car loans, personal loans and loan protection.  She has offices in Sydney and Melbourne.  If you have questions, you can call Maria at 0430 144 008 or email her at