When a community member was contacted by a man claiming to be from the Australian government stating she was owed in excess of $5000, she went with her instincts and decided it was too good to be true.
Dawn Winters was lucky her intuition kicked in, as according to ScamWatch, her identity could have been stolen by merely verifying her birth date.
“He gives you your full name and address from the phone book and says he’s got $5000 to give you from the government because you’ve been over-taxed and over-charged for stamp duty fees from the bank,” Ms Winters said.
“The info he’s giving sounds pretty good; he doesn’t say it’s an overseas call but it’s an Asian voice and caller ID said it was from Sydney.”
Ms Winters said the main reason she knew it was a scam was because the personal information he relayed to her was what could be read in the phone book, rather than her legal name.
She also said it would seem legitimate to a lot of people because he reassured her he did not need any bank details.
“It sounds feasible and a lot of people would give out their birth dates, (but) what he was saying wasn’t what I am legally,” she said.
“I’d hate to think anyone would get caught.”
Just a few short days later, Traralgon resident June Jennings contacted The Express with the same complaint – she too had nearly been scammed.
Ms Jennings received two phone calls, both from men claiming to represent the Federal Government offering her a $5000 refund.
“The first man knew who I was and knew my address. They tried to tell me that they owed me $5000, I said ‘how do you send this?’,” she said.
Ms Jennings too followed her intuition and did not give her birth date, a move which incurred another call, claiming to be from the caller’s supervisor.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said the phone scam had become more and more common recently and advised community members to hang up if they received any call “out of the blue”.
Ms Rickard said with personal information such as your full name, address, phone number and birth date, frauds were able to set up bank accounts, take out loans, create billing accounts and do virtually anything with the stolen identity.
“Really guard your personal information, shred your bills and information and take real care – if someone emails you or calls out of the blue, just hang up or press delete, no Australian government department or bank institution will do that,” she said.
If you are concerned about a potential scam or would like more information, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au