Telephone Scams

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Understanding telephone scams 

The most prolific form of identity compromise currently impacting the Australian and New Zealand communities are telephone scams. 

 Most scams originate from offshore. There are two common varieties – 

  1. scams that deceive individuals to provide personal information and payment details over the phone; 
  2. scams that can lead to remote access of a device for the purposes of harvesting information, transacting and/or installing malware, such as ransomware. 
Detecting telephone scams
  •  Cold calls from individuals that claim to be from well-known government and private sector organisations. 
  • Numbers may appear from Australia or New Zealand, but will likely be routed from offshore. 
  • Scammers will look to incentivise individuals to act on something, for example a prize, a grant, an unpaid tax, a virus. 
  • Some may even threaten legal action or money loss. 
  • Scammers will ask you to “prove” who you are or ask for access to your device. 
Preventative measures: 
  •  Good organisations won’t call you and then ask you to prove yourself. 
  • Scam calls can be received from landline or mobile numbers and the “Do Not Call” register will only keep honest telemarketers at bay. 
  • Don’t feel pressured to act. If you think a call may be legitimate take down the person’s name and number and do your own research. Make sure when you hang up you hear a dial tone – some scammers will pretend to hand up and catch you dialling the real organisation’s number only to pretend to answer it (when they haven’t disconnected from the first call). 
  • Don’t think a message left is more legitimate, it’s not. 
  • Hang up if you suspect it is a scam and talk to family or friends about it. 

Responding to telephone scams: 
  • If you believe that you have experienced a telephone scam contact IDCARE for assistance 1800 595 160(AUS) 0800 121 068(NZ).
  • Disconnect your device immediately from the Internet if they have gained remote access. 
  • Immediately contact your financial institution(s) and inform them of what has happened. 
  • Engage service providers and ask what additional security can be put in place. 
  • Note down any identifiers of scammers, such as the telephone numbers they have called from. 
  • If you believe you have had your licence, passport or other high-risk credential compromised see our Fact Sheet about Credit Reporting Agencies. 

More information 
  • ‍In June 2018, 45% of individuals experienced a telephone (remote access) scam. 
  • One of the main reasons for believing a telephone scam was the scammer knowing details about an individual (eg. name and address. 
  • Another reason for believing a scam was if an individual was experiencing issues with their internet or device. 

Identity Care Australia & New Zealand Ltd (IDCARE) provides identity and cyber security incident response services (the Services) in accordance with the following disclaimer of service:

IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber incident community support service. We are a not-for-profit charity.

  • The Services provided do not constitute legal advice. IDCARE recommends that you consult a solicitor in relation to your legal rights and obligations, including but not limited to your legal rights or obligations under Australian and international privacy and data protection laws.
  • While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this product or service, to the maximum extent permitted by law all conditions, terms, representations, and warranties (in each case, whether express or implied) in connection with the provision of the Services which might otherwise be binding upon IDCARE are excluded.
  • IDCARE’S liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person or organisation (including, without limitation, any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage) arising out of or in connection with the Services (including without limitation liability for any negligent act or omission, or statement, representation or misrepresentation of any officers, employees, agents, contractors or consultants of IDCARE) shall be limited to the fees paid by you to IDCARE in respect of the Services. For the avoidance of doubt, this limitation of liability extends to any liability arising from any actions performed or not performed as a result of any recommendations made in course of providing the Services.
  • The Services provided by IDCARE are intended to be provided solely to the initial recipient of this document or service and IDCARE will not be liable to any other person who may receive this document.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this alert, IDCARE disclaims any liability to any person in respect to any actions performed or not performed as a result of the contents of the the Services or any accompanying data provided. Wider dissemination may be permitted by authority in writing from IDCARE’s Managing Director. If you would like to provide feedback please use our Feedback Form.


IDCARE is here to provide you with specialist support and guidance when faced with a cyber and identity related issue. Contact one of our Identity & Cyber Security Case Managers to learn more about our Support Services and how we can help you.   

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