Australian Government stimulus package scams

20 February 2009

SCAMwatch is warning Australians to be on the lookout for scammers seeking to take advantage of the Australian Government’s Household Stimulus Package. They may attempt to steal your money and personal information.  

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Centrelink are preparing to make one-off bonus payments to Australian taxpayers, families, students and farmers over the coming months as part of the $42 billion dollar package announced on 3 February 2009.

SCAMwatch has received reports of scammers sending bogus emails seeking personal information such as the person’s name, date of birth, address and bank details.

The emails are disguised as official communication from the ATO or Centrelink and suggest that people need to complete and submit an application to receive the bonus payments when this is not the case. 

SCAMwatch is informed that in most cases people do not need to do anything to receive payments.

The ATO is administering the Australian Government’s tax bonus and advises that it will automatically make payments into accounts nominated on 2007–08 tax returns.

The ATO advises that some taxpayers such as those who have not yet lodged their 2007–08 return and those who have changed banking details may need to take action to receive payments. The ATO will not request updates to personal or banking details or lodgement of tax returns via email.

Taxpayers are advised to visit the ATO website for more information on the tax bonus payment and to assess whether any action is required to receive it.

Centrelink administers the other bonuses included in the package and has all information required to process payments to eligible recipients and will commence making payments during March.

More information on payments for families, students and farmers and eligibility for payment is provided on the Centrelink website. People who have received hoax emails and provided details are advised to contact Centrelink on 1800 050 004.

SCAMwatch reminds Australians that the ATO, Centrelink or banks will never send emails requesting verification of personal details.

Protect yourself

  • Never send your personal, credit card or banking details over the phone in response to unsolicited emails or enter it on any website if you are not certain it is genuine.
  • If you receive unsolicited emails claiming to be from the ATO, Centrelink or your bank delete them immediately!  
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links or reply to these emails.
  • Use a phone number of web address from sources that you know are legitimate such as official letters from the organisation (like bank statements) or the phone book. Never rely on contact details provided in unsolicited emails.

More information

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about requests for your account information ('phishing' scams), learn how you can protect yourself against scammers or to report a scam.

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