Scams explainer – top 5 targeting Aussies in 2022

  • Cyber Security
  • 21.12.2022
  • Time to read 1 min read


This festive season, NAB is encouraging Aussies to use what is typically a very social time to educate family and friends on scams.

Be a hero and talk about scams at your next social event.  If you get stuck explaining what any of the scams are, here’s an explainer – using fictional characters – on how the top five typically target people.

It could happen to anyone.  Stop, think, protect.

#1 Remote access scams (computer hacks) 

A criminal – pretending to be someone from a well-known business or organisation – calls or sends Sonia a pop-up computer message saying that they need access to her computer. The criminal asks Sonia to download or update a software programme at the company’s request. If Sonia follows these instructions, the criminal will be able to access Sonia’s computer documents, passwords and other information, leaving her vulnerable to money and identify theft.

Top tips: Stop, Think, Protect. Never give an unexpected caller remote access to your computer or online bank accounts. Ensure you carefully read any SMS codes you receive. If the message says “Don’t share this code with anyone, including NAB. Your security code is XXXX for a funds transfer”, then do not share this code with anyone. Never provide personal or banking information during an unexpected call.

#2 Investment scams

A criminal – disguised as a business or organisation – contacts Matt via email or phone and offers him an investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true. The criminal makes the opportunity and the financial returns sound incredibly good in order to persuade Matt to make an investment in a scheme – such as cryptocurrency – or a company. Matt is then asked to transfer large sums of money to this criminal pretending to provide legitimate investment options.

Top tips:  Stop, Think, Protect. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before even considering an investment opportunity, ask the person approaching you for an Australian Financial Services (AFS) Licence or Australian Credit Licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and cross-check this information yourself. More information here.

#3 Business email scams

A criminal – disguised as legitimate company – sends Kerry an email that includes a link to a website or an attachment such as an invoice or document. When Kerry opens the link or attachment, it asks Kerry to give her personal information over and can immediately install software that gives the criminal access to Kerry’s computer without her knowledge. Often the linked website will look legitimate and will prompt Kerry to provide personal information like a mobile phone number, usernames and passwords, credit card or bank details.

Top tips: Stop, Think, Protect. If you suspect an email, don’t respond to requests for information and don’t click on any links or open attachments, even if there’s a sense of urgency. More information here.

#4 Romance scams

A criminal – disguised as a someone looking for friendship – contacts Tom using any means possible including social media, phone and email. They talk or message like they are interested in Tom, either romantically or as a very good friend. The criminal pretends to be interested in getting to know him. It can take many convincing conversations, and once trust is established, the criminal will ask, persuade or pressure Tom to send them money.

Top tip: Stop, Think, Protect. Go through the Scamwatch website to see any similarities between your relationship and the case studies. Google the scammer’s name to see if they’ve been reported on any scam sites. More information here.

#5 Phone phishing scams (often using ‘spoofed’ numbers)

Olivia receives a phone call or text message that looks to be from ‘NAB’. The criminal – disguised as a company employee – says they are concerned about an ‘unusual transaction’. The criminal reassures Olivia they are calling or texting from the official company and, in a phone call, will tell Olivia to check the number they’d called on. Olivia sees that the number appears to be the same as that listed on the bank’s website. The caller then warns Olivia that her account would be blocked to stop the ‘unusual activity’, and she needed to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.

Top tips: Stop, Think, Protect. Treat any unsolicited phone calls or texts with caution. If you get an unsolicited call from your bank and are unsure, hang up and call the bank back on their official website phone number. Importantly, we will never ask a customer to transfer money to another account to keep it safe. More information here.

Stay up to date with the latest scams and fraud advice available on NAB’s security hub.  

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