Scammers posing as Centrelink staff target Redlanders

BE ALERT: More than 1270 calls in the past six months had been received by the Department of Human Services from people swindled out of money and personal information.
BE ALERT: More than 1270 calls in the past six months had been received by the Department of Human Services from people swindled out of money and personal information.

PEOPLE are being fooled into buying iTunes gift cards by scammers claiming to be from Centrelink.

Redlanders are not immune to the ploy, with reports the bayside region is being targeted.

One Redland City Bulletin reader said she and her husband were forced to visit Centrelink after they were left a voice message telling them they were owed money.

She said the caller insisted their fortnightly payments had increased, with both owed back payments. 

The woman deduced it was a scam but rang the contact number provided. 

She said the person who answered told her iTunes gift cards, to the amount of $600, needed to be bought before the money could be accessed.

“I hung up – I said, ‘this is a scam’ and we went to Centrelink,” she said.

A Human Services Department spokesperson said staff would never ask people to transfer money or buy gift cards to receive a payment or service.

They would also never ask for pin numbers or for personal information to be sent via email, SMS or social media.

 “We remind people to be cautious if they are contacted by someone claiming to be from the government,” the spokesperson said.

Centrelink clients worried they have been duped can ring a helpline number – 1800 941 126 – set up by the federal government this month.

More than 1270 calls in the past six months have been received by the department from people swindled out of money and personal information by scammers claiming to be from the government.

“The methods used by scammers are many and varied and include contacting people by phone, email, text messages, or even through social media accounts,” the spokesperson said.

“One current Centrelink-related scam involves a caller who claims to work for the agency and is seeking to recover a debt.

“The caller is aggressive and tells the victim that their benefit will be cut off within days if they do not pay up.”

Bayside district crime prevention coordinator Acting Sergeant Brendon Winslow said people needed to be alert to scams.

“A … follow up phone call can save you from becoming a victim,” he said.

“A simple rule to remember for scams is to trust your instincts and if it doesn’t quite feel right then it’s probably not legitimate in which case you should not go through with it.”