Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning the public and businesses about a number of scams running across the state.
Mr Stowe said Fair Trading had received numerous reports from the public and through the media and government agencies about the following scams:
Fake Energy Bills
This is a phishing email pretending to be from reputable energy companies including Energy Australia. It claims you owe money for an outstanding gas or electricity bill and asks you to click on a link to view or update your account and arrange payment via money transfer. If you click on the link, you risk infecting your computer with malware and having your personal information stolen.
If you pay this fake bill via money transfer, you will lose your money. Reports have also been received about scammers approaching consumers via phone calls, SMS and post. DELETE any text or email and ignore letters like this.
If in doubt about energy bill reminders, check directly with your energy provider. Fair Trading has viewed the source data related to one of these emails purporting to be from Energy Australia and the link goes to a website hosted in the Russian Federation with the domain name energyarel.com. Incorrect spelling and grammar feature in this scam correspondence.
Telstra Scam Calls
As well as consumers, a Fair Trading officer has been contacted in the past week with the offer of a discount on Telstra services. The officer had not had an account with Telstra for a decade.
One consumer reported the scammer telling him he was calling from Austel, a telecommunications business and seeking to confirm personal details. Telstra confirmed the call was a scam. This scam is also designed to procure personal details from consumers. Hang up on these calls. Never share personal information or provide financial details to unsolicited callers. If in doubt, check with Telstra. The Orange region is a current target for this scam.
Government Reclaim Scam – on bank or court fees
Northern NSW in particular has been a target in the past week for the relentless scammers pretending to be calling from the Government Reclaim Office. Scammers tell people they are entitled to a refund of varying amounts of around $7,000 and provided with an account number to pay money into or an address to send payment to. The money is allegedly to cover legal or administrative costs.
The scammers provide people with a name and number to call and often also a reference number. This level of detail is designed to convince consumers they are dealing with a legitimate agency. In the past week the following names and details have been provided - Rose Brown 02 8006 1414 and the reference number SR06; Angela Cooper 02 8006 8235; Britam Kaur at 12 Royal Street Delhi 110025; Gary Smith 02 8091 4944 with the reference number AK23; and, 02 8006 1416. Consumers are told to go to their local Post Office and invariably asked to transfer money via Western Union.
19 June 2014
One consumer asked why money was being sent overseas and the scammer told her it was because lawyers were too expensive in Australia. Foreign accents are a feature in these scam calls. In one recent case a consumer was told they were entitled to a $7,000 payment from a court case. The consumer had never been to court.
Fake court appearance notices
Scam emails are sent to people telling them they need to appear at court on a certain day and time and to bring certain documents and information with them, with warnings about consequences if they don’t. The email has an attachment court notice. If you click on the attachment, your computer is infected with a virus and your security and personal information is compromised.
Tamworth has been a recent target and the local court registry was contacted by several worried locals. Ignore these letters and if in doubt contact your local court registry. Whatever you do, don’t click on the link.
Accident insurance scam
The scammers start by suggesting someone at the address they have called has been involved in an accident in the past three years and the person is entitled to compensation of thousands of dollars but the caller needs to confirm details for their database.
This scam is designed to harvest your personal details that can then be used to defraud you.
Avoid identity theft. Never send your credit card or bank details in response to unsolicited approaches on the phone, in emails or texts.
If you receive a phone call that you think may be genuine, you should not ignore the possibility that there actually has been some fraud with your bank account or credit card.
Ask the caller for details, then hang up and call your bank or credit union to tell them what has happened.
Make sure the phone number you ring is genuine. If you have lodged a genuine accident insurance claim, call the insurer and let them know you have received a call.
Mr Stowe said this week was National Consumer Fraud Week but every week was Scam Week.
“Scammers never sleep,” he said. “They plague people 24/7 with variations on scams and new scams emerging almost daily.
“People should warn their friends and loved ones and always report scam calls to Fair Trading on 13 32 20 so we can track where communities are being targeted and issue warnings.
“Many people are scam smart but there are also many who get caught, so it’s important everyone takes responsibility for protecting the community from scams.”
Be scam wise - stay one step ahead of scammers with NSW Fair Trading’s free mobile app Scam Buster in iPhone and Android versions.
In the app you can: learn about current scams doing the rounds in Australia, get NSW Fair Trading’s expert tips on how to bust scams and report a scam.
You can also report scams to www.scamwatch.gov.au or call 1300 795 995