Tis’ the scamming season

Girl with pc and headphones

As we look for the perfect presents for our loved ones, clever criminals are looking for their own Christmas gift – your money and identity.

In November alone, Australians made over 24,000 reports to Scamwatch.

Protecting customers from falling victim to scams and identity fraud is an ongoing priority for our department.

One of the ways we do this is through our Dapto-based Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk.

Since its establishment in May this year, up until 11 December, helpdesk staff have taken 6,742 calls from customers across the country.

The helpdesk provides dedicated support to customers who think they may have been scammed, including those who may have had their personal information stolen.

Helpdesk Assistant Director Mark Cosgrove said his staff can offer customers advice on how to protect their personal information. They can also check if unauthorised activity has occurred or been attempted.

“If you’ve received a suspicious email, text message or telephone call from someone claiming to be from Centrelink, Medicare or myGov this Christmas, don’t provide any personal information, and report this to scamwatch.gov.au.

“We do send our customers emails and text messages, but we never include hyperlinks.

“We also never ask for remote access to your computer, or ask you to pay a fee in order to receive a payment.

“Customers should always access their online accounts from our genuine websites, for example my.gov.au.”

Helpdesk Support Officer Emma Cuthbert said clever criminals are trying to take advantage of people during the busy Christmas period.

“In recent weeks we’ve received calls about a Medicare email and SMS scam, telling people they are owed a rebate of $200,” Emma said.

“Other scams have included phone calls from someone pretending to be from Centrelink, offering customers $5,000 in return for bank account details.

“We’ve also heard about a Centrelink phone scam, where scammers are saying if people make a payment via an iTunes card they’ll receive a rebate.

“We would never ask you to do this.  It’s important to remain vigilant and protect your identity.”

We work closely with IDCARE to help victims to recover from the practical and emotional impacts of identity theft or cybercrime.

Help reverse the threat of scams
Help reverse the threat of scams

IDCARE Manager Christine Jackson shared her tips to protecting your personal information over the holiday period.

“If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open it,” Christine said.

“You should report it to scamwatch.gov.au and just delete it.

“Make sure your passwords are difficult to guess, and you don’t use the same passwords for any of your accounts.

“Protecting physical information is just as important as staying safe online.

“It’s important to check your mailbox regularly, as letter box theft is one of the ways criminals can steal 100 points of ID from you.”

People who are worried they may have experienced a scam or identity incident related to Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support or myGov can call the department’s Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk on 1800 941 126.