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Stop and check: Is this for real?

Be on the lookout for threat-based impersonation scams by taking a moment to ‘Stop and check: is this for real?’

Scammers might call or email you and pretend to be from a government agency or well-known, trusted business. They then use threats to pressure or scare you into giving them your money or personal information. 

When scammers impersonate government officials, they may say you owe a tax debt or there are problems with your government benefits, immigration forms or visa status and you must pay the debt or other fees to fix the issues or you’ll be arrested or deported.

Scammers also pretend to be from organisations like Telstra, Australia Post or the police. They may ask for remote access to your computer to fix a problem or track down hackers or they may email you fake bills or fines, then threaten to cancel your service or charge you fees if you don’t do what they ask.

We need to raise awareness about these scams as the scammers and their threats can seem genuine and frightening. They make you feel as if you’ve done something wrong or there’s some urgency and you must act immediately or suffer the consequences.

If anyone receives an unexpected and threatening call or email supposedly from a government agency or trusted business, they are urged to follow these tips to ‘Stop and check: is this for real?’:

  • Always ask yourself whether the person or business who contacted you out of the blue is who they say they are.
  • Verify the identity of the contact through an independent source, such as a phone book or online search, then get in touch with them to ask if they contacted you. Don’t use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message sent to you.
  • Never send money, give your banking or credit card details or other personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust, and never by email or over the phone.
  • Remember a government agency or trusted business will never ask you to pay them with gift or store cards, iTunes cards, wire transfers or bitcoin.
  • Never give anyone remote access to your computer if they’ve contacted you out of the blue – whether through a phone call, pop up window or email.

WA ScamNet website publishes information and advice on scams and sends out alerts. Enquiries can be made to Consumer Protection by email or by calling 1300 304 054.