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:
Charges related to fraud
There are a range of offences related to fraud. They include:
- obtaining financial advantage by deception
- obtaining property by deception
- 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:
- calling or going to your local police station
- confidentially report crime to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
What will happen if a fraud is reported?
When a crime such as a fraud is reported to police, they can:
- take a statement from you about what happened and what was lost by the fraud
- collect evidence and investigate what happened
- try to find the person who did the fraud.
It is important to understand that:
- the police investigation will focus on finding and charging those responsible for a criminal fraud. If you wish to try to recover your money or property, you may need to start civil action.
- if the issue is a dispute about payment rather than a fraud, police cannot investigate this. You may be able to make a complaint to an appropriate agency.
If someone is charged
If an accused person is found by the police, they may be charged and the justice process will start.
This website explains the justice process in Victoria. You can learn about:
Report the fraud to other agencies
Australian Cyber Security Centre (ASCS)
The Australian Cyber Security Centre is the Australian Federal Government initiative for improving cyber security. You can use their ReportCyber online tool to report cyber crime (online crime). It can refer your report to the most relevant law enforcement or government agencies for investigation.
You can report types of crime such as:
- identify theft
- online scams - common examples include unexpected offers of prizes and money, dating and romance scams, threats or extortion for money, scams involving job offers and investments
- attacks or hacking of computer systems
- email spam and phishing.
Australia and New Zealand’s national identity & cyber support service. You can report identify theft and cybersecurity concerns on their website, including hacking, phishing, scams and data breaches.
Open: 8am–5pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 1300 432 273
Consumer Affairs Victoria
If you are dealing with a dispute regarding products, services, housing and car sales, Consumer Affairs Victoria has extensive information about your rights as a consumer in Victoria.
You can view their Who to go for help page for information on who to contact to make a complaint.
MoneySmart is run by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. It provides information about a wide range of money-related issues including scams.
You can report investment and financial scams (such as those involving superannuation, financial advice and products, insurance and managed funds) to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
ScamWatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provides:
While ScamWatch and the ACCC are not able to help in recovering lost money of finding a scammer, reporting helps keep the community aware of scams.
Seek compensation/return of your property
The Victorian government does not provide financial assistance for money or property lost because of fraud.
You may be able to:
If you have an insurance policy covering any property you lost due to fraud, you may be able to make a claim for the cost of replacing it. You may need a copy of the crime report from the police to do this. Contact your insurance company for more information.
Seek the return of your property or compensation directly from the offender
If a person is charged with taking your money or property, you may be able to apply for a court order to make the offender:
- return your stolen money or property
- pay you for what any lost property is worth.
You can learn more about seeking compensation from an offender.
Get financial advice
If you are experiencing financial issues as a result of a fraud you can get advice from:
The National Debt Helpline
Open: 9.30am–4.30pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 1800 007 007
Learn more about protecting yourself from fraud
You can learn more about protecting yourself from these websites:
- Victoria Police has more information about reporting fraud in Victoria
- ScamWatch provides information about common scams
- The Australian Cyber Security Centre provides information about cyber or online crime
- IDCARE provides information about identity theft and cyber security
- WIRE provides information for women about financial abuse in relationships
- MoneySmart – provides information about financial abuse in relationships and families, including elder abuse .
Understanding the traumatic effects of crime
Experiencing fraud or being caught up in a scam can be an upsetting and worrying experience. Everyone’s response is different, but it can be helpful to understand the common feelings and physical reactions people have and what to expect.
On this website, you can learn more about:
Counselling and crisis support services
24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: 13 11 14
Mental health care plan – see your General Practitioner
If you need assistance, you can see a General Practitioner and discuss your situation. You may be eligible for a mental health care plan that will assist with the cost of counselling.
Victorian Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) Legal Help service provides free general legal information over the phone and by chat online.
Open: 8am–6pm, every day
Call: 1800 677 402