What’s an impersonation scam?

An impersonation scam is when a scammer contacts someone by phone or SMS and impersonates a bank or other service company. They then convince the customer to authorise transactions, make a payment, or provide personal information.

Scammers go to great lengths to look authentic. Before contacting someone, scammers do their research and have well-thought-out details at hand, such as partial card and account numbers. This level of detail allows the scammer to gain the customer’s trust as they sound more convincing.

Recently, scammers have been cold-calling people and using sophisticated scripts and techniques to sound more professional and believable. For example, scammers may introduce themselves as a Macquarie employee using names and job titles obtained on platforms such as LinkedIn to convince the customer that they’re talking to someone from Macquarie.

In 2022, Scamwatch received 14,603 reports on bank impersonations with more than $20 million reported lost. More than 90 of these reporters individually lost between $40,000 and $800,000*. It’s important to stop and consider when we’re being asked to give personal information.

What to look out for

– Unsolicited contact. Consider whether being contacted makes sense in this scenario.
– Scammers often pitch the reason as urgent and want you to act quickly.
– They pretend to be from the fraud security team to sound more legitimate


– We’ll never ask you to transfer funds to another account
– Never share passwords with anyone
– Check contact information and bank details for yourself using a trusted source. If you think you’re on the phone with a scammer, hang up and call the bank yourself on a trusted number.
– Avoid using phone numbers from text messages; contact your bank directly using a trusted source.

*Source: Targeting Scams – Report of the ACCC on scams Activity 2022

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