Have you been targeted?
Have you received an automated voicemail message claiming to be from Centrelink which asks you to call a Canberra number?
If so, do not call the number as this is a scam.
We have received reports from a number of concerned clients about this scam. So we are providing as much information as possible to assist you in determining if you have been targeted.
The scam works by pretending to be a trusted representative of Centrelink. Always be cautious if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the government. Our clients have reported finding an automated voice message left on their phones. It is clearly an automated message by the tone of the speaker.
The message says that you have received an increase in your Centrelink benefit and that you have been sent a form to complete in order to receive the increase. The message then goes on to tell you that they have not received your form. So they are calling to remind you to pursue your claim for the increase in payment.
You are then given a reference number and a phone number to call which is purported to connect you to the Canberra office of Centrelink.
What should you do?
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard says “if you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink claiming that you are eligible for an increase in your pension or benefit – hang up.”
This scam is very similar to one which the ACCC’s Delia Rickard was responding to in November 2016. The advice is still relevant today.
“The scammer will claim that you’ve been sent a letter about an increase in your benefits and not responded to it. They will then claim that your file has been sent to Canberra and that you can either go to Canberra to fill out the required form or you can pay a fee and have the forms sent to you.”
Don’t be fooled
This time around the scammers are using a different approach to try to get you to fulfil your claim and thus give them your details. But the scam is still the same – stealing identity and money. “The scammer’s main objective is to get your money and they usually ask for payment via wire money transfer or iTunes cards. To push you into paying this money, the scammer might threaten that you will not receive any further benefits until the situation is resolved,” Ms Rickard said.
“The Department of Human Services will never ask you to deposit money in order to receive a payment. If in doubt, don’t use any contact details provided by the caller. Look up the government department or organisation yourself in the phone book or online, and phone or email them.”
Never provide details
Never provide your personal, credit card or online account details if you receive a call claiming to be from Centrelink or any government department.
Instead, ask for their name and contact number and make an independent check with the organisation in question before calling back.
If you provide the scammer with your details online or over the phone, they will use them to carry out fraudulent activities, such as using your credit cards and stealing your money.
In order to identify possible scams, it can help to be aware of what the Department of Human Services will do and things they won’t do.
The department does call, SMS or email people from time to time, and may ask questions to confirm they are speaking to the correct person, including asking for the person’s name, address and Customer Reference Number. The department’s staff will always introduce and identify themselves clearly.
The department never asks people to:
- send personal information by email, SMS or social media
- transfer money or purchase gift cards or vouchers, such as iTunes cards, to receive a payment or service
- provide passwords or Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) to bank accounts
- click on links or download files from the internet or email attachments
- pay a fee to receive a payment or service
Want to learn more?
The Department of Human Services’ scam and online security website provide information about scams designed to imitate the department, and ways the department helps people stay safe online.
You can find general information on how to recognise and avoid scams at the government SCAMwatch website.