Scammers pose as government & banks offering to reclaim overcharged bank fees

6 May 2011

Beware of scam callers pretending to be from the Government or a bank and asking for an upfront fee to reclaim your overcharged bank fees.

How the scam works

  • You receive a call out of the blue from a scammer claiming you are eligible to reclaim several thousands of dollars in overcharged bank fees.
  • The caller pretends to be from a fake government department, specifically an ‘Australian Government Reclaim Department’ (or variations of this). Some scammers also claim to be from the ‘Office of Fair Trading’ or a bank.
  • They ask for an upfront payment of a few hundred dollars, typically calling it a donation to charity, an administration fee or taxes.
  • They will ask for this payment to be sent overseas via a wire transfer service.
  • The scammer may provide you with a reference number, a return phone number (which may look like an Australian number but is often a VOIP number) and in some cases an Australian address.
  • They will try to convince you that their call is legitimate by allowing you to speak with a supervisor if you ask to do so.
  • They will offer to deliver the cheque to your house after you pay upfront costs but in reality you will never receive the cheque or any money from the scammers and will have lost any money you pay them.

Protect yourself

  • If you receive a phone call out of the blue claiming you are entitled to a refund, hang up immediately. If you’re not sure that the call was a scam you can check by independently finding the bank or Government department’s contact details and calling them directly.
  • Be suspicious if the caller claims to be from a bank or the Government (specifically a fake ‘Australian Government Reclaim Department’ - or variation on this - or from the ‘Office of Fair Trading’).
  • Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register. Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently or from anywhere it has been publicly listed such as in a phone book.
  • NEVER provide or confirm your personal details, or give money to someone unless you made the call using details you found yourself and you trust the other party.
  • SCAMwatch urges you to never pay money upfront to receive ‘free’ money – this is advance fee fraud.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page.

More information

Visit our Up-front payment scams page.
 
SCAMwatch also previously released a radar on these scams – Refund scams: ATO taxes and bank fees.

Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.

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