Financial scams are not uncommon in Australia. You may think that this will not happen to you or your family, but it could.
Scams come in all shapes and sizes from investment schemes, inheritance scams, betting and sports investment schemes to dating and romance scams.
Recently, a client was phoned by someone claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office who advised they were following up amounts owing for previous tax years. For the client there was some credibility for this as previous tax returns were outstanding. Once the caller realised they had an ‘’in’’ they were incredibly persistent and even threatening to the point that they persuaded the client to go and purchase iTunes cards to pay the supposed debt. They obtained the numbers of these cards over the phone and were quick to cash them in.
The client became suspicious when they rang for more money, and she then rang us. We advised that it was a scam, and to be sure she should phone the tax office, who confirmed they had not called.
Not giving up, they phoned again and this time advised they were from Centrelink and provided a contact number to call in Canberra for verification. On talking to us, she rang the general number for Centrelink (not the number the caller provided) who again confirmed that they had not called.
If you ever have a phone call from someone claiming to collect money from a government agency, please be aware of this scam. A government agency will not collect money over the phone, and are unlikely to make contact by phone, unless responding to a call. They will also not use urgency tactics for payment.
If in doubt call the agency back on a general number, or call your adviser and if they are unavailable talk to another adviser. Scams can also be checked at scamwatch.gov.au and acorn.gov.au.