SCAMwatch is warning small businesses and consumers to be on the look out for scam websites that either falsely claim to be affiliated with government or boast bogus government endorsements.
How the scam works
- These scams operate through websites which charge a fee for services offered freely or at a lower cost by government or charge for services they never end up delivering.
- This scam commonly targets registrations and renewals, for services such as:
- business registrations
- tax file numbers
- travel documents
- online business directories.
- Sites often use prominently-placed official logos, links to genuine government websites and photos of well-known Australians or landmarks to give the websites the appearance of authenticity and authority.
- Most Australian government websites use the '.gov.au' extension – never .org, .net or .com.
- Government services are never paid via wire transfer.
- The Australian Government website www.australia.gov.au is a safe portal for finding government services, including travel, tax and grants, and will help to avoid unauthorised third party providers.
- If you want to use a third party service check out who you are dealing with and what the industry requires in the first instance from an independent source and read all the terms and conditions.
- Be wary of misused trust marks, logos, seals of approval – they may just be copies and not the real thing.
- Never enter your personal, credit card or banking details on a website unless you have checked it is authentic—scammers can use your details to commit identity fraud or steal your money.
- 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 report a scam page on SCAMwatch.
SCAMwatch has issued previous radars and a media release on scams which impersonate government:
- September 2011 - ACCC media release - International internet sweep targets websites with false sponsorships
- July 2011: Beware of scam calls offering carbon tax compensation payments
- May 2011: Scammers pose as government & banks offering to reclaim overcharged bank fees
- October 2010: Scammers offer ‘guaranteed’ Australian visas
- September 2010: Fake grants from a fake government department
- September 2010: Do not pay for the Do Not Call Register
Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.