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Oz Gov Impersonation Scams On The Rise, Over $1.3M Lost

Scamwatch is urging Australians to watch out for government impersonation scams, with more than $1.26 million lost from some 7,100 reports made to Scamwatch so far this year. In reality, losses are likely to be far greater than this figure, as not all cases are reported.

“Scammers are increasingly taking advantage of the financial difficulties and uncertainty generated from the COVID-19 pandemic to trick unsuspecting Australians,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

“We are seeing two main types of scams impersonating government departments: fake government threats and phishing scams. Both of these scams can be quite convincing and can lead to significant financial losses or even identity theft.”

For example, there have been more scams reported during tax time, such as text messages claiming to be from myGov or from agencies claiming to help victims gain early access to their superannuation.

In a fake government threat scam, victims have received robocalls that pretend to be from the ATO or another government department. The scammer then tries to scare people into handing over money, in some cases claiming that they can be arrested if they refuse.

“Government departments will never threaten you with immediate arrest or ask for payment by unusual methods such as gift cards, iTunes vouchers or bank transfers,” said Rickard.

Scamwatch has also warned people against emails and texts that include a link or request personal details. In addition, if you are unsure whether a call is legitimate, you should hang up and call the relevant organisation directly.

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