• MCW Lawyers

Online scams: How to avoid them and what to do if you get scammed

Internet scams are rapidly evolving and have become an ever-present threat for businesses and individuals online and through their devices.

 

What do these scams look like?

They take many forms, from fake ATO robocalls to suspicious SMS links about bogus packages. However, there are a few ways that you can spot a suspicious email, SMS or phone call. Things to look out for include:

  1. There is pressure or a sense of urgency about responding to the contact.

  2. The contact is unsolicited or unexpected.

  3. You are asked for your personal information.

  4. The email address or phone number isn’t one you recognise. Look closely – it may be that one number or letter is off.

  5. The written correspondence contains grammatical or spelling errors.

  6. You are asked to click a link.


Are these scams illegal?

It is a crime to obtain property, gain a financial advantage, or cause a financial disadvantage to someone else through deceptive and dishonest tactics. This is known as the crime of fraud, which is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.


What happens if you get scammed?

If you think you have been scammed, you should take action immediately.


Contact your financial institution immediately if you have been scammed out of money. Your financial institution may be able to request a back charge, which is one way of clawing back the funds from the other party’s account.


Usually, the longer the time between the scam and reporting it to your bank, the more likely it is that the scammer has already spent the funds or moved them somewhere else, making it very difficult to trace your money.


You may also have a civil claim against the scammer for the recovery of your money. However, tracking down and identifying an online scammer is often impossible.


You should also file a police report and report the scam to ACCC’s ScamWatch.


Please get in touch with Jasmine Andrews from our Commercial Litigation team for more information.