Investment scams are on the rise in Australia. A 2016 report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission titled Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scams activity 2015 found that individuals over the age of 45 accounted for 70 per cent of total losses from scams.
The most recent scam we have had reported to us is in regards to Centrelink. A client will receive a call (or have a phone message left for them) from a robotic voiced lady, who claims to be from Centrelink. She says that due to no response from correspondence issued to the client, their client file has been moved to Canberra head office. To get any future pension increases the client will need to apply for these. The instruction is to call the head office by calling back a number and quoting a reference number.
All reports of the scam have had the same call back number and the same refence number (080456).
Centrelink have confirmed this is indeed a scam, and on several occasions have reported this to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Competition).
Scammers may say they are from:
- the Department of Human Services
- Child Support
- myGov, or
- other government agencies
They may ask you:
- for personal information, such as your Centrelink Customer Reference Number, address, sign in details, bank details, passwords, identity documents or Medicare card details
- to pay fees or transfer money to get a benefit or pay back a debt
- to purchase gift cards or vouchers, such as an iTunes gift card
- to give them access to your computer
If a scammer has your information, they may use the details to:
- misuse your identity to commit fraud or other crimes
- use your credit card
- access your accounts, including bank accounts
- scam your friends and family
How to identify if it is really Centrelink
It is important to note that Centrelink DO do contact clients by phone, but you should be cautious of unexpected phone calls claiming to be from them. You can ask for the caller’s name and contact details, then call Centrelink on one of their payment lines to check.
They MAY use electronic messaging to send you important information, by email or SMS. Their messages won’t contain your name or contact details, but may include:
- requests and reminders to attend appointments
- notification of payments
- confirmation of changes to your details
- notification of a new letter in your myGov Inbox
What to do
If you get a suspicious email or SMS claiming to be from Centrelink:
- don’t open it
- don’t click on any links, or
- don’t respond to the sender
They will NEVER ask you to reply by email or SMS to any electronic message sent to you.
When you pay for something online:
- check that it’s a reputable company with a secure site – there should be a little padlock in your browser window.
- Never send your financial information by email.
- Remember to be suspicious of anything that sounds too good to be true.
Keep your personal information safe
To protect your personal information:
- know that scams exist
- be cautious of uninvited contact
- keep your sign in details private
- protect your mobile device with a password, and set your device to lock after a short period
- use a password that is hard for others to guess, and change it regularly
- keep your computer networks and mobile devices secure with security software
Always remember to:
- keep your personal information hidden when using a computer or mobile device in public
- beware of unexpected emails, SMS, social media messages, and pop-up windows, and don’t open links
- sign out of your online accounts and close the browser
Scam emails, websites, SMS, social media messages, phone calls, and letters can look or sound very convincing.
Please do not hesitate to contact your adviser if you are unsure of any correspondence or contact recieved. Remember if you are EVER in doubt as to the validity of a phone call or correspondence received, call Centrelink directly and enquire. The Older Australians line is 132 300.
This information was taken directly from the Department of Human Services website and you an view this here: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/subjects/identify-scams-and-stay-safe
The Australian Competition and Consumer Competition (ACCC) monitor scams that are in operation. For more information on scams, refer to: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/