It feels like another day, another scam call

Gift cards are the latest form of payment being demanded by scammers over the phone. 

Police have warned people to be wary of potential phone scammers who are coaxing people into purchasing gift cards as forms of payment for various debts.

Police from Manning-Great Lakes Local Area Command have received multiple reports from people who have received phone calls from someone claiming to represent of either the Australian Taxation Office or Telstra.

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.

This is a form of the same scam that targeted Portland, Wallerawang and Lithgow residents early last month. In that instance, the scammers demanded money be transferred via the Woolworths online shopping portal. 

Police are warning members of the public to be wary of any requests for payment made over the phone and are urging them not to transfer any money or provide sensitive information to people over the phone.

Community members are reminded that the Australian Taxation Office will never: 

  • threaten you with immediate arrest
  • ask you to pay money to receive a refund or payment from us
  • 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.

SCAMWATCH gives the following advice to avoid becoming a victim of a scam: 

Protect yourself

Hang up: 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.

Verify their details:  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.

They can call private numbers: Even if you are listed on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register, scammers can obtain your number fraudulently or from anywhere it has been publicly listed. 

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.

Update computer security: 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. 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.

Keep details private: 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.

Don’t give access: Never give a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a reputable business.

Been scammed? If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report: 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.

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