The scammers are at it again, and this time it’s under the guise of Centrelink officers.
This morning, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned consumers to beware of scammers imitating Centrelink or Department of Human Services officers, who will ask for your money or personal details as part of their scam.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the ACCC has noticed a spike in contacts regarding fake rebate scams from pretend officials.
“One hundred people contacted the ACCC about this scam last month, compared with 20 reports in May. Four people have reported losing over $3,000 to this scam in the past six months, with 300 contacts in that time,” Ms Rickard said.
How these scams work
- You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink.
- The caller tells you that you are entitled to more money but you must provide some personal details to prove your identity. At this point the scammer attempts to gather as much as they can about you for identity theft.
- If you provide these details the scammer will then ask you to send money directly via a wire transfer service or may even direct you to your nearest Post Office to pay the ‘fee’.
- The scammer may claim that your Centrelink payments will be cut off unless you pay the fee.
- If you send any money via wire transfer, you will never see it again – it’s nearly impossible to recover money sent this way. You will also never receive the promised rebate or refund.
- If you refuse to do this, the scammer might use any bank details you provided to access your bank account directly and attempt to steal your money. These details may also be used in the future for identity theft.
Ms Rickard’s advice if you are to receive a suspicious phone call out of the blue, with the person at the other end of the line claiming to be from government, simply hang up.
“If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly. Don’t rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search,” Ms Rickard said.
“Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.”
You can report scams to the ACCC via the Scamwatch page or by calling 1300 795 995.