Fraud and scams

If you have experienced fraud, you can report it to police and take steps to protect yourself.

Anyone can experience fraud. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported that in 2018, Australians lost almost half a billion dollars to reported scams.

While you may feel embarrassed or hurt by being caught up in a fraud, particularly if it is committed by someone close to you, it is important to know that you can take steps to protect yourself from further loss. You may also be able to recover some of your losses.

What is fraud?

Fraud is when someone uses dishonest behaviour in order to gain an advantage from another person or organisation. 

The advantage is often money but it may also include goods, services and property.

Your personal identity information, social media accounts, photographs and financial details (such as bank accounts) may also be targeted, because these can be valuable to criminals who can use them to commit frauds on you or other people.

Threatening someone in order to get money from them or some other advantage can also be a crime.

You may also find the information on theft useful.

In some cases, fraud can happen as part of a larger pattern of criminal behaviours such as:

There are a range of offences related to fraud. They include:

  • obtaining financial advantage by deception
  • obtaining property by deception
  • theft
  • making, using or supplying identification information
  • possession of identification information
  • possession of equipment used to make identification information.

What can I do?

If you believe you may be affected by fraud, it is important to take steps right away to protect yourself from further loss.

Let your bank or financial institution know

If you think any of your banking accounts or credit cards have been affected, contact your financial institution/s as soon as you can and tell them what has happened.

They can close or freeze the accounts. This may help to recover any funds lost or prevent further loss.

Get a copy of your credit report

A credit reporting agency can check for transactions you did not authorise or give permission for. You can also check if anyone has made inquiries into your credit history that you did not give them permission to do – this can help to identify who might be using your accounts.

Secure your information and accounts

It is important to take action to secure your personal information as soon as you can if you think it has been used without your permission.

This can include:

  • reporting missing or stolen identity documents such as your driving licence and passport
  • closing any accounts which have been set up in your name such as phone, gas, electricity, water, department stores and banks or other financial institutions
  • securing or shutting down social media and online accounts that have been hacked or set up in your name.

Most organisations' websites have information available for people on what to do if their account is not secure or an account has been set up in their name.

Collect evidence about the fraud

If you have evidence relating to the fraud, it is a good idea to make sure you keep it safe because this can help with the investigation.

Evidence may include:

  • any details you have about the person who you believe has committed the fraud
  • details of any witnesses
  • financial and business records and documents
  • receipts and invoices for purchases
  • communications such as phone records, emails, text messages, chat messages, letters.

Report your issue

Report the fraud to the police

You can report to police by: