Scamwatch has reported government impersonation scams have cost the public thousands of dollars. Picture: iStock.
Scamwatch has reported government impersonation scams have cost the public thousands of dollars. Picture: iStock.

Northern Rivers residents urged to watch out for this scam

NORTHERN Rivers residents are being urged to be wary of government department robocalls which are the new way scammers are trying to catch vulnerable people.

The calls involve a robocall pretending to be from a government department, such as the ATO or Department of Home Affairs and make out the victim has a threat of money laundering or fraud against them.

In cases of phishing scams, these usually involve emails and texts that will include a link and request personal details such as a tax file number, superannuation details or copies of identity documents.

So far these type of scams have cost the public over $1.26 million lost from more than 7100 reports, although Scamwatch feels the number could be far greater.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the scammers are using the fearful environment created by the coronavirus pandemic to their advantage.

"Scammers are increasingly taking advantage of the financial difficulties and uncertainty generated from the COVID-19 pandemic to trick unsuspecting Australians," Ms Rickard said.

"We are seeing two main types of scams impersonating government departments; fake government threats and phishing scams."

"Both of these scams can be quite convincing and can lead to significant financial losses or even identity theft."

Ms Rickard said there was a number of ways residents could protect themselves from being the next victim in these scams.

"Don't click on any hyperlinks in texts or emails to reach a government website, always type the address into the browser yourself," Ms Rickard said.

"Do not respond to texts or emails as the scammer will escalate their attempts to get your money."

"Government departments will never threaten you with immediate arrest or ask for payment by unusual methods such as gift cards, iTunes vouches or bank transfers."


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