The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning the community to be aware of phone calls from scammers pretending to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch has received over 2,200 reports of this scam since January, with more than $27,000 reported lost. Four individuals have reported losses of $1,000 or more. This is a significant increase from 2015, when there was $3,500 reported loss and 560 contacts.
“If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink claiming that you are eligible for an increase in your pension or benefit - hang up,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“The scammer will claim that you’ve been sent a letter about an increase in your benefits and not responded to it. They will then claim that your file has been sent to Canberra and that you can either go to Canberra to fill out the required form or you can pay a fee and have the forms sent to you.”
The scammer’s main objective is to get your money and they usually ask for payment via wire money transfer or iTunes cards. To push you into paying this money, the scammer might threaten that you will not receive any further benefits until the situation is resolved,” Ms Rickard said.
“The Department of Human Services will never ask you to deposit money in order to receive a payment. If in doubt, don’t use any contact details provided by the caller. Look up the government department or organisation yourself in the phone book or online, and phone or email them.”
- If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from Centrelink and offering an increase in benefits, hang up.
- If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a government department, contact the department directly using independently sources details.
- Never give your personal or financial details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
- Any requests to send money via a gift card (such as iTunes) should be treated as highly suspicious as they are not considered a legitimate source of payment.
- Never send any money via wire transfer or any other means to anyone you do not know or trust.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page.
For more information, visit the Scams page on the Department of Human Services' website.
Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @Scamwatch_gov on Twitter.