26 September 2023

Scammers using phones to hook victims

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Consumer Protection is warning mobile phone users to be aware of scam texts claiming to be from a Federal Government Agency.

The texts contain a link to a fake offer of free COVID-19 PCR test kits.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe said the texts appeared to come from Medicare, but previous messages had pretended to be from Services Australia and myGov.

“The message advises the recipient that they are an Omicron close contact and need to order the test kit via the link provided,” Mr Newcombe said.

“They are then directed to a fake Australian Government online order form which requires a full name, address, date of birth and banking or credit card details to pay for delivery costs.”

He said WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection had received 20 reports of the scam since late April with one woman reportedly losing $60,000.

“Services Australia and other Agencies do not include links in texts they may send to clients and the PCR test kits don’t actually exist,” Mr Newcombe said.

“Once scammers have your personal and financial details, they can attempt to access your bank or credit card accounts or steal your identity to apply for credit.”

He urged anyone who had provided these details to contact the relevant Agency or their bank, using official contact details, and follow their instructions which may involve cancelling accounts or changing passwords.

“If you have paid by credit card, keep an eye on your statement for any strange transactions. You can also dispute the transaction and request a charge-back,” Mr Newcombe said.

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