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Loyalty program customers warned over latest impersonation scam

How to avoid the new scam targeting people holding loyalty points with major companies including Qantas, Coles and Telstra.

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Last updated: 27 July 2023


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Need to know

  • Authorities are warning people holding loyalty points with major companies about a new scam
  • The fraud uses the threat of your points expiring to get you to provide personal information
  • Don't click on links in SMS messages and watch out for signs that a website might be fake

The national anti-scam watchdog is warning customers holding loyalty points with major businesses to beware of a new phishing scam.

The National Anti-Scam Centre says customers of the Qantas, Coles or Telstra loyalty programs should watch out for scam text messages and or emails which attempt to obtain their loyalty points or personal information.

The ACCC, which operates the anti-scam peak body, says victims are being told their points are about to expire and urged to click on a link to a fake website.

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A suspicious text purporting to be from Qantas, claiming a recipient's points are about to expire. Source: supplied.

They're then asked to enter login credentials, credit card details or other personal information, which cyber-criminals can use on other platforms, and to commit identity theft.

"Scammers are deliberately panicking consumers by claiming their points are expiring soon," says ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe.

"The National Anti-Scam Centre has contacted the companies that have been impersonated by scammers and is working with web host providers to have the fake websites taken down."

The warning comes after the ACCC's Scamwatch received over 200 reports of the scam in the past four months.

"While the vast majority of reports received so far are in relation to Qantas Frequent Flyer, Telstra and Coles loyalty programs, it is important for Australians to be aware that any loyalty program could be referred to in this type of scam," says Lowe.

Cyber-security experts have previously told CHOICE that scammers can easily build websites impersonating major brands and can also slip their messages into SMS threads from legitimate organisations.

How to protect yourself

Fake websites can stand out for their unusual URLs, poor formatting or lack of supporting links and information, such as company details and contact pages. Read our full guide on how to spot and report a fake or scam website for more information.

Scamwatch is urging people not to click on links included in a text message, and to independently access the app or website of the company holding their loyalty points to check the status of the points themselves.

CHOICE takes action on scams

In our latest Consumer Pulse Survey, eight out of 10 respondents told CHOICE they're in favour of the government legally requiring businesses to do more to stop scams.

"The overwhelming majority of people in Australia want the government to force businesses to do more to protect people from scams," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.

CHOICE says banks should be required to reimburse scam victims – a measure supported by 64% of survey respondents.

"[We need] banks to reimburse customers when they fail to stop money being stolen through a scam," Kirkland says.

Bank transfer was the most commonly reported way scam victims lost money to fraud last year.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.