Warning issued over pensioner Centrelink scam

Scammers have caused so much damage with a Centrelink rort, the ACCC has been forced to issue a warning to
The ACCC is warning about the dodgy scam targeting pensioners.

Scammers have caused so much damage with a Centrelink rort, the ACCC has been forced to issue a warning to all pensioners to be mindful of dodgy phone calls regarding their welfare payment.

In a statement released by the commission, they said they have received more than 2,200 reports about the scam since January, which has cost victims over $27,000.

The scam has been around for a while, but has ramped up this year and tricked thousands of people out of their hard-earned money. In 2015, the scammers netted around $3,500 from victims – a stark contrast to the whopping sum they took home this year.

So why are so many people falling for the trick?

The ACCC says scammers are using scarier and more threatening tactics, which even the most discerning pensioners are falling for.

“If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink claiming that you are eligible for an increase in your pension or benefit – hang up,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“The scammer will claim that you’ve been sent a letter about an increase in your benefits and not responded to it. They will then claim that your file has been sent to Canberra and that you can either go to Canberra to fill out the required form or you can pay a fee and have the forms sent to you.”

Ms Rickard said the scammer will usually ask you to wire them money and threaten to cancel your pension if you don’t come through.

“The scammer’s main objective is to get your money and they usually ask for payment via wire money transfer or iTunes cards. To push you into paying this money, the scammer might threaten that you will not receive any further benefits until the situation is resolved,” Ms Rickard said.

“The Department of Human Services will never ask you to deposit money in order to receive a payment. If in doubt, don’t use any contact details provided by the caller. Look up the government department or organisation yourself in the phone book or online, and phone or email them.”

The ACCC has released this advice and is asking all pensioners to share the information to warn others.

Protect yourself

  • “If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from Centrelink and offering an increase in benefits, hang up.
  • If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a government department, contact the department directly using independently sources details.
  • Never give your personal or financial details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • Any requests to send money via a gift card (such as iTunes) should be treated as highly suspicious as they are not considered a legitimate source of payment.
  • Never send any money via wire transfer or any other means to anyone you do not know or trust.”

Have you ever been targeted by scammers? Have you ever fallen for a scam?

  1. Guy Flavell  

    No doubt everyone has seen those scam ads on many of the SA60 articles offering
    huge gains by working from home. These disgraceful ads are designed to make the more
    gullible readers send money overseas for the bogus job information. They apparently
    originate from NIGERIA. Please don’t be conned by these mongrels !!!
    I only wish that Starts At Sixty had some way of barring these despicable ads from appearing
    on their fabulous site.

    • Karen O'Brien-Hall  

      Hi Guy
      I agree with you, Guy, these scam ads are so annoying and so difficult to prevent. I have an email address I use for non-personal mail and it gets hit with these frequently. As quickly as I add them to the delete list, they reappear under a different name.
      Maybe I should just give up, follow the instructions and become an overnight millionaire as they suggest???

    • Hi Guy,
      I would recommend that you go to your search engine of choice (google, msn, bing, yahoo etc) and enter the search term ‘adblock plus’. It is a plugin that will block a lot of the ads you see coming up on your browser. It’s been around for many years now and is quite effective. There’s a free version and a paid version, you can get by with the free version though 🙂 There is a version for each browser. I would guess that you are probably using Internet Explorer, so you could even search for ‘Internet explorer adblock plus’. Or go to their website adblockplus.org. If you’re worried about the plugin look at the user reviews for it before you decide whether you want to use it. I use it on all the browsers I use (Firefox, Chrome, IE) and have done for many years. I also block ads from my Windows host file. I would explain how to do that but it is a bit complicated for the average PC user. In any case, you certainly CAN block these annoying ads and I think everyone should!

  2. Carole Price  

    I had a call about an hour ago from a man claiming to be Centrelink, luckily earlier today I read a warning on SOS on Facebook so was very suspicious. The man sounded very convincing and quite persistant that I give him (or confirm) my details which i refused to do. Be very careful everyone and do not give any details.

  3. Judith Pugh  

    Preying on the vulnerable, as in bird of prey, not as in prayer

  4. Marita Baum  

    They’re probably happy to just to think they are able to actually speak to someone at Centrelink – an elderly person (82) close to me who is going through a distressing time at the moment but who was trying to do the right thing by disclosing a change of circumstances, was yesterday told (when he visited a Centrelink office because he thought it would be faster) he would have to wait at least an hour and that he should always plan for at least an hour. Disgraceful cut- to -the bone non-existent service – is the plan that they hope people will just find it all too hard and drop off the system? No wonder these vulnerable people get scammed

  5. Angie  

    Centrelink will never call you and ask you for money in order for you to receive an increase in your pension, that simply isn’t done! That would be your first warning sign. They always send you letters of any changes in the system and how it effects your circumstances …. Please! Please! people be alert and help your elderly to be diligent and warn them against this disgusting practice to obtain money by menaces. Never ever give personal details to anybody over the phone no matter who they claim they represent. Demand this in writing or hang up and call Centrelink yourself. This happened also to my mother and luckily I was there at the time and took the phone off her and dealt with that person who claimed to be from Centrelink myself…. Shame on these people!!!

  6. Anna Bains  

    Yeah Centrelink is a disgrace to the Australian government, now they joined services with . I doubt they had any proper training in customer relations. They claim they are know everything about every individual but obviously they dont. They are not even able to know cheats , or the people are are really struggling financially everyday. As for medicals some doctors will do anything for a patient they have known for a long time. There is no respect in this society , you think anyone they are going to show any to the elderly who deserveit more than anyone. Centrelink is so corrupt those people may actually be from centrelink but want to rip you off for their own benefit. No one is going to turn on someone from their own department.

  7. We get calls from the ATO (tax office) and have been threatened with being arrested. We called their bluff by saying they were being monitored and recorded by police tapp on our phone, guess what, they hung up. They did call back again when we were out but the fool left a voice message on our answering machine with the same speal/scam. I still have it if the ATO want it.

  8. Emma  

    Call Centrelink back? Who has the spare three hours?

    • Jennifer  

      Emma, I’ve only had to deal with Centrelink, by ‘phone, or at one of their Offices’, about eight times’ in the past three years’.

      I have nothing but PRAISE for the people with whom I’ve spoken, receiving very courteous, & EFFICIENT service from them all, both males’, & females’.

      You state ‘three hours’ wait on ‘phone.
      Don’t know what number you dialled, but longest wait, in my few calls’ to them, was two weeks’ ago, & that was 25 MINUTES’!

      I believe in ‘credit where credit’s due’, too, as those at the ‘coalface’ cop much flak, through no fault of their own, when staff numbers’ are continuously being cut, by powers’-that-be!

      The figures’ on ‘ACA’ week before last, of ‘lost calls’ would lead to a private Company being closed down!

  9. Joy  

    Seriously, do people STILL fall for this stuff these days despite so much publicity about scams? The same people wouldn’t reveal as much information to their own close friends, particularly about their financial position. Well, I guess appealing to someone’s greed is still the best way to con someone …… very sad.

    • Sandee Goddard  

      Appealing to someone’s greed?????

  10. Daphnee  

    The saying, ‘there’s no fool like an old fool’, is so very true when it comes to these scams, & THAT is exactly what the scammers’ rely upon!

    Only last night, there was an instance on ‘ACA’ where a Gold Coast pensioner gave details over the ‘phone to scammers’, & as a result has lost $102,000, which, of course, he’ll never see again!

    I’ve only copped Indian phone callers’ at night in the past, but since being on DNC Register, these have ceased.

    Have had about seven scam messages’ on mobile ‘phone, in last five years’, which I immediately call the Fed Govt’s ‘Scamwatch’ about.

  11. Sam  

    A couple of weeks ago Centrelink rang at home and to do a phone interview over the phone and they were supposed to send a letter to our home but we never received it. They kept harassing by ringing and ringing and found it very rude from one of the staff members at Centrelink. If they request a phone interview you rather go by person at Centrelink. Do not give out details over the phone.
    These people were dishonest and were harassing by ringing. I find it quite suspicious and it is harassment.
    Please be cautious and be extra careful.

  12. Ian Gammage  

    I received this call today at 1205pm and was asked to call 0283787970

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