Fresh scam reports have surfaced in the Hunter as con artists pretend to be from federal welfare agency Centrelink in order to get personal information from unsuspecting victims.
There have been reports to Paterson MP Meryl Swanson’s office recently from people who say they have been targeted by a person claiming to be from Centrelink, accusing them of not declaring income and demanding personal details.
While not part of the Federal Government’s controversial Centrelink debt claw-back, questions have been raised as to whether scammers are taking advantage of confusion in communities.
Hunter resident Lisa Stanaway said she received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from a pre-recorded message.
She said the voice told her that she was entitled to claim money but hadn’t responded to letters sent to her home address.
Ms Stanaway said the voice gave her a reference number and offered to increase her benefit payments.
“Neither of us are on benefits and have nothing to do with Centrelink so straight away the alarm bells ring,” she said.
“I wish the mongrels would find something better to do than annoy us.”
Ms Swanson said her office had received five reports of the scam recently – one being an automated voice and the others a real person.
“It’s bad enough that the Turnbull Government is harassing vulnerable people with threats of debt collectors, but now we have scammers taking advantage of them as well,” she said.
“Centrelink has confirmed to my office that they do know about these scams, and advise people that no Centrelink person would ask them for their bank details over the phone.
“Please do not give your details to anyone on the phone. If you are worried about the legitimacy of a call, hang up, and phone back on the relevant Centrelink number. I would encourage you to report the scam on 1300 795 995.”
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission data shows that $47,232 lost in phishing scams like this across the nation last December alone.