Would-be phone scammers have been coaxing people into purchasing gift cards in order to pay an outstanding debt.
Police from Manning-Great Lakes Local Area Command received multiple reports from people who have received phone calls from someone claiming to represent of either the Australian Taxation Office or Telstra. It has prompted a warning to others in the Hunter, with fears the scam could spread.
The caller tells the person that they have an outstanding bill or debt, before instructing them to purchase gift cards. The details of the gift cards are then provided to the caller as payment for the outstanding bill.
According to police the Australian Taxation Office will never threaten you with:
- Immediate arrest
- Ask you to pay money to receive a refund or payment
- Ask you to pay a debt via iTunes vouchers or pre-paid credit card or store gift cards
- Ask you to provide personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN) or credit card number, via email or SMS
- Ask you to pay money into a personal bank account
- Direct you to download files from the internet, or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
Further information can be found by visiting www.ato.gov.au/general/online-services/identity-security/verify-or-report-a-scam
- If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be a representative of Telstra and their call relates to a problem with your internet connection, just hang up.
- If you have doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly. Don’t rely on contact details provided by the person – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
- 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 (link is external). Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently or from anywhere it has been publicly listed such as in a phone book.
- Don’t let scammers press your buttons – scammers use detailed scripts to convince you that they’re the real deal and create a high pressure situation to make a decision on the spot.
- Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
- Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
- Never give a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a reputable business.
- If you think your computer’s security has been compromised, use your security software to run a virus check. If you still have doubts, contact your anti-virus software provider or a computer specialist.
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
If you have lost money as a result of this type of scam please report the matter to your local Police Station.
You can also report scams to the ACCC via SCAMWATCH or report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.