Scams targeting Queenslanders
The following scam warnings are current.
- COVID-19 (coronavirus) scams
- Bushfire charity scams
- Mother's Day scams
- Dating and romance scams
- Charity scams
- Email hacking scams
- Licensee impersonation scam
- Tax return scams
- Social media scams
- Fake trader website scam
- Fake solar rebate
- Cold call investment fraud
- Fake calls using Office of Fair Trading name
- Fake emails from government agencies
You can also report a scam.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) scams
31 March 2020
The spread of COVID-19 or coronavirus has brought on fear and anxiety for many people in the community. Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the situation with a variety of scams being reported worldwide.
Scams associated with COVID-19 that have been identified include:
- fake websites and/or social media accounts claiming to sell medical or health products such as face masks
- phone calls where the scammer claims to be a relative that requires money for medical treatment
- phishing scams via email claiming to be from organisations such as the Department of Health or the World Health Organisation with links and/or documents containing malware to obtain personal data.
Consumers are warned to be on their guard against these scammers. If you are worried about a phone call, email, social media post or text message, it is best not to respond or click any links. Read more about how to protect yourself against scams.
More information for consumers and businesses affected by COVID-19 is available on our website or visit the ScamWatch website.
Bushfire charity scams
06 January 2020
Scammers are known to take advantage of public generosity during and after disasters. Donating to a registered charity is the best way to ensure your money reaches the people or cause you want to help.
The best way to do this is conduct a free online check to see if the organisation conducting the appeal is legitimate. Organisations that wish to fundraise in Queensland must be registered with us or authorised by a registered charity to act on their behalf.
Legitimate street and door-to-door charity collectors should:
- wear prominent identification
- provide receipts (unless a collection box is used or the donation is given in exchange for an item such as a badge)
- be able to produce written authority from the association for which they are collecting
- be 15 or older or accompanied by an adult
- door knock only between 9am and 5pm.
Scammers also use fake websites and social media accounts.
If you think you have been scammed, report it to us.
For more information, read our bushfire charity scams media statement.
Mother's Day scams
10 May 2019
Mother’s Day often involves buying or ordering a flower delivery. Although convenient, make sure you do your research and understand your rights and the risks before you order from a website, social media or an app.
Consumer complaints we have received for Mother’s Day flower deliveries have included customers who left it to the last minute to place their order, and complaints are generally about the flowers not arriving in time, not arriving at all or arriving damaged.
In addition to avoiding flower delivery problems, take time to avoid potential issues with other Mother’s Day gifts. Scammers use special times such as Mother’s Day to appeal to online consumers by offering cheap prices and quick delivery. These fake traders can cause financial and emotional stress.
By planning ahead, you give yourself time to:
- read the terms and conditions, especially about delivery timeframes and whether any cut-off times apply for peak periods
- check the trader’s refund policy and see if changes are allowed before confirming an order, especially if you think you may need to change a delivery time
- ask family and friends for supplier recommendations, or do a quick online search for reviews if you are ordering from a supplier you haven’t used before.
You should also ensure you keep your receipt and order confirmation in case there are any issues with your delivery.
For more information, read our Mother's Day media statement.
Dating and romance scams
7 February 2019
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it might seem like a good time to sign up to dating apps and websites. To protect yourself and your money, ensure you read and understand the associated terms and conditions before entering into any contract, no matter how enticing the deal may sound.
Although free to sign up, some dating apps charge for additional functions such as further information about potential introductions, contacting other profiles or changing a subscription.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, it is an offence for a business to make a false or misleading claim, or one that is likely to mislead or deceive, such as advertising a service with an incorrect or partial price.
For more information, read our dating and romance apps media statement.
21 December 2018
There have been reports of scammers impersonating legitimate and well-respected charities. Contact is made using realistic emails, social media posts or text messages to draw you in and ask for money or personal details.
Collectors may also approach you pretending to collect for a legitimate charity. Organisations that wish to publicly fundraise in Queensland must be registered with the Office of Fair Trading or authorised by a registered charity to act on their behalf.
If you are planning to donate to a charity or relief appeal:
- look for the fake charity warning signs
- do your homework—check the charity you are donating to is legitimate.
We keep a list of registered charities that you can check online for free.
For more information, read our scam charities media statement.
Email hacking scams
30 November 2018
Whether large or small, businesses should keep their IT security up to date at all times, while scammers become consistently more sophisticated in their tactics.
Email hacking scams can involve fraudsters impersonating clients or staff in an effort to get hold of secure details and money. It is important for businesses to be aware of scams and make sure all staff remain vigilant.
It is recommended that businesses ensure a 2-factor check process is in place for communications, especially involving large sums of money. For example, if a regular supplier or customer changes their contact details, the business should confirm this change.
A high-profile case involving a Queensland real estate agent scammed into sending a large payment to a fraudster’s account shows that emails can’t always be taken at face value.
For more information, read our email hackers media statement.
Licensee impersonation scams
7 March 2018
The SMS scam involves a message to security licensees, claiming their licence is either due to expire, or has already expired. The victim is then asked to send a renewal receipt or photo back to the scammer.
We are reminding licensees that the agency does not send text messages to licence holders to ask for information about their licence.
Any communication between the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and industry stakeholders can be verified by contacting the contacting OFT directly via the Queensland Government Call Centre on 13QGOV (13 74 68), or via our pages on the Queensland Government website (www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading).
For more information read our licensee scams media statement.
Tax return scams
25 July 2017
With tax season upon us, reports have been received about scammers trying to steal Queenslanders’ money or personal details by impersonating the Australian Tax Office (ATO) or police by phone or email.
Reports of threatening demands include asking for immediate payment of non-existent ATO fines or requests for personal information such as credit card details. These requests become progressively more aggressive as the conversations unfold.
If you receive a call or email claiming you will be arrested for a tax debt, simply hang up or delete the email. The ATO will not threaten you with immediate arrest, nor will they ask you to:
- pay money to receive a refund or payment
- pay a debt via pre-paid credit cards, store gift cards, or iTunes vouchers
- provide personal information, such as your tac file number (TFN), via email or SMS
- pay money into a personal bank account
- open attachments in unsolicited emails or download files from the internet.
If you’re concerned the contact may be legitimate, you can phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check.
Queenslanders are urged to stay alert and to report any scams to Scamwatch.
For more information, read our tax scams media statement.
Social media scams
15 May 2017
These scammers abuse the trust of social media users by impersonating real people looking for love or legitimate retailers, causing financial and emotional stress. If you use social media, we urge you to think carefully before buying goods or services, or before sending money to anyone online.
Anyone could be a target of these scams; however, consumers can spot and avoid social media scams by following some simple advice.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Targeting Scams 2016 report, the share of scams using social media is on the rise as well, with a 250% increase in reports since 2015. Among the top social media scams are dating and romance scams and fake trader scams.
For more information, read our social media scams media statement.
Fake trader website scam
21 June 2017
We have received reports of a number of 'fake trader websites' that offer heavily reduced priced items, including barbecues, outboard motors, air conditioners and gym equipment in return for cash payments.
Police have since worked with hosting agencies to have these websites taken down, but are concerned there may be more websites and even more victims.
The fake websites taken down by police include:
If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Further details are available from MyPolice.
Find more online shopping tips.
Fake solar rebate
1 September 2016
We have received reports that scammers are cold-calling Queensland residents claiming to offer a Queensland Government rebate for solar panels.
There are currently no Queensland Government rebates for the purchase of solar panels, although the solar bonus scheme does still operate for eligible customers.
If you are interested in solar panels for your home, do your own research and engage a supplier of your choice, rather than accepting an offer from a cold-call salesperson. If you receive a call you suspect of being a scam, simply hang up.
Cold call investment fraud
18 August 2016
Cold call investment fraud (CCIF) is a type of scam that offers supposedly guaranteed returns on investments or gambling.
Spotting the scam
The scam usually begins with an unsolicited phone call (a cold call). The offer might be:
- for computer software that supposedly predicts share market movements or sporting results
- to become a member of a betting syndicate, where bets are placed on your behalf and profits are returned to syndicate members
- presented as a business opportunity or investment.
Look out for the following warning signs:
- A promise of large or guaranteed returns for minimal or no risk.
- The use of professional-looking promotional material, with financial or technical language, to showcase the apparent returns.
- Frequent and persistent attempts by the scheme’s promoters to get you to join, or to invest more.
- Being told places in the scheme are limited or only being offered to certain people.
If you receive a call offering you an ‘investment opportunity’, just hang up.
Don’t be pressured into signing up to anything or making decisions about your money before you’ve had a chance to consider your options.
If you need financial advice, make the approach yourself to a recognised financial institution or adviser.
Report suspected CCIF
You can report suspected CCIF attempts in the following ways.
- If you receive a phone call, but do not engage with the scammer and receive no further contact or documentation, you can report the attempted fraud to Scamwatch.
- If you receive multiple calls, or are sent documentation to complete, please report it online. This form will ask you to provide the details of the CCIF company that contacted you. You will usually receive a reply within 48 hours, containing a Queensland Police reference number. Information provided will be used by Police to investigate CCIF, and you may be contacted for further information.
- If you have given money to a suspected CCIF company, you will need to lodge a police report. Contact Policelink or visit your nearest police station.
Fake calls using Office of Fair Trading name
5 August 2016
Do not provide your bank details over the phone. Queensland residents have received calls from scammers using the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) name in a bank-fee refund scam. The scammers are calling and asking that you confirm basic information including who you bank with, your name, date of birth and address. The scammers say OFT will contact you the next day but they require your bank details now.
We do not cold call Queenslanders offering refunds for overcharged bank fees. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. If you receive a call like this, just hang up on them.
Fake emails from government agencies
15 July 2016
Queensland businesses are warned to watch out for scam emails that claim to be from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and other government agencies. The emails contain links that can infect your computer with malware. The scams encourage the recipient to find out more by either clicking on a pdf file link, or responding to contact details in the email. Clicking on the link will cause your computer to become infected with malware that freezes your computer and requires payment of a ransom before unlocking it.
Avoid this scam by checking the email address. Emails from Australian government agencies end with .gov.au, not .govt.au or @outlook.com.
While we are not aware of OFT's name being used in a similar fashion, if you receive an email from us with an attachment that you're not expecting, be careful and call us on 13 74 68 if you're unsure.