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Scammers targeting the industry

March 16, 2020

Are you protecting your business from online and phone scams?

HIA has recently received reports from members who have become the victim of fraudsters and scammers targeting the building and construction industry. Whilst scams are many and varied a current scam involves online retailers of estimating and quoting packages failing to deliver on services after taking an upfront payment.

What is a scam?

A scam will usually require you to do something before the scam can actually work. For example, a scam is likely to offer you a product or a service for a fee of which you will be required to pay prior to receiving that product or service. In most cases, personal details will be provided by a victim as well as the payment and unfortunately, the product or service will not be received or it will not be of the same quality that was promised.

Please note that some scams can be easy to spot, whereas others may be more sophisticated and appear to be genuine and others can take place without you even doing anything at all.

Some examples of scams that exist include the following:

  • Banking & online account scams
  • Health and medical scams
  • Chain letters and pyramid scams
  • Identity theft scams
  • Investment scams ('get-rich-quick')
  • Job & employment scams
  • Lottery and competition scams (fake prizes)
  • Mobile phone scams
  • Money transfer scams ('Nigerian' scams)
  • Online scams
  • Personalised scams
  • Small business scams

What you can do to protect yourself?

Does it seem too good to be true?

If it does feel too good to be true, then it probably is. You should always be a little bit more cautious, particularly where it does seem too good to be true. If in doubt, obtain advice from an independent person, particularly where an offer involves a significant amount of commitment, time or money.

Do not give out your personal details, credit card or banking details to any person that you do not know and do not trust. This includes telling someone your pin numbers for your cards – in the wrong hands, it would not take long to access your funds. You should contact your bank or credit union if you have unauthorised transactions appearing on your bank statements.

Do some further investigation

It is always a good idea to do some further research in relation to a product or service before accepting an offer. Don’t let anyone pressure you into accepting an offer where you don’t feel comfortable doing so – this includes finalising a sale by the end of the day or week. Be sure to read all of the terms and conditions as well as finding out about refunds and returns and future customer service contact details.

Ask your mates whether they have dealt with or heard of the person or organisation that you are looking to purchase a product or service from. Past experiences will often come to light as either positive or negative experiences but it will still be up to you to use your judgement before proceeding.

Check out whether the person or organisation has a website that you can look at. Websites are readily available and affordable these days and it does not take much to create a website that looks genuine. Never enter your details onto a website that you are not certain is genuine. This includes your personal details, credit card or bank account details.

Who can you contact if you think you have been scammed?

You should report the scam (or suspected scam) to SCAMWatch (the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). This can be done by submitting a form or you can contact the SCAMWatch Infocentre on 1300 795 995.

You can also report scams to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (for financial and investment scams), the Australian Taxation Office (for tax-related schemes/scams), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (for spam emails), your bank or financial institution and the Police (for fraud, theft and other crimes).

If you have been scammed or if you think you have been the victim of a scam, contact SCAMWatch.

HIA members can also contact a HIA Workplace Adviser on 1300 650 620 for more advice.


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