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What are scam calls?

Criminals may call you, impersonating a government agency such as the Tax Office, an energy or telecommunications provider, Australia Post, a bank or the police.

The aim of these scam calls is to pressure you into providing your personal or banking information. The caller may threaten you with expensive fines or tax bills, arrest or deportation, to take you to court, or to disconnect your Internet service.

They may ask you to buy gift cards, iTunes vouchers, Bitcoin or pre-paid credit cards to pay your fine or debt. In other cases, they may request remote access to your computer and/or bank accounts to investigate an ‘issue’ or stop a transfer.

Legitimate businesses will never threaten to arrest you, or demand immediate payment of a tax debt or fine with unusual payment methods like gift cards or Bitcoin, or request remote access to your computer.

How big is the problem?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC’s) Scamwatch agency received close to 33,000 reports of phone scams in 2017, which cost Australians over $4.7 million.

This is likely only the tip of the iceberg, as many cases go unreported.

Case study

Arthur*, a NAB customer, received a call from someone purporting to be from NAB.

“They told me that someone had attempted to send $800 to the USA via my internet banking. They said I could stop it by giving them my NAB ID. I explained I didn’t even have Internet Banking- they said I would receive two SMS codes which they required to stop the money from being transferred. It was all a bit rushed and they were quite aggressive when they spoke to me. They kept saying, “It’s urgent, read the codes out quickly or the money will be gone!”. I was in quite a fluster, so I gave the caller all the information they’d asked for.”

Two days later when Arthur visited his local branch to withdraw some cash, he found out that $4990 had been transferred overseas. The money could not be recovered and Arthur was out of pocket for the full amount.

While NAB does everything it can to recover funds transferred as part of a scam, recovery is not guaranteed if SMS codes or banking details have been shared with an unauthorised party.

What happened?

When Arthur gave the caller his NAB ID, they used it to register him for Internet Banking. This triggered the first SMS code to be sent to him, which he provided to them. The second SMS code he received and gave to the caller authorised the transfer of $4990.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

We’ll SMS you one-time passcodes for Internet Banking registration, transactions and password resets. These messages will state that they are a secret code which should not be shared with anyone, not even NAB. These codes provide an extra layer of security for your accounts, so it’s important to keep them and your phone secure.

Tips to stay safe

  • Treat any unsolicited phone calls with caution. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of any call, hang up, and call back on an official phone number to verify the call was legitimate. The general NAB number 13 22 65 is listed on the back of your cards and on our website.
  • Never provide personal or banking information on unsolicited calls.
  • Ensure you carefully read any SMS codes sent to you. If it states “Your NAB secret code is xxxxx. Do not provide this to anyone, even NAB”, do not disclose this code to anyone.
  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer or online bank accounts.

If you are a NAB customer and believe you may have fallen victim to a scam, please call 13 22 65 immediately and ask for the Anti Scam Investigations Team.

Helpful resources

How to keep your identity safe online

Your identity is your most valuable asset. Protect it. Your freedom depends on it.

How to identify spam and phishing messages

Be on the lookout for suspicious messages and avoid being a target of cyber-criminals.

How to keep your family safe online

The internet is full of information, but it can also be dangerous. Learn how to keep your family safe online.

Keep your mobile devices and apps secure

Your mobile device is the portal to almost every detail about you. So it's important to keep it secure.

Cyber safety

Stay informed

Report a suspicious NAB message
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