Residents and businesses are being warned about a number of scams currently doing the rounds across the state.
The mobile phone and computer of a Pambula Beach couple was the target of a viral court appearance notice on Tuesday. It alarmed the law-abiding couple, causing them to wonder what they might have done wrong. Had they missed paying a bill or had they overlooked a traffic infringement notice, they wondered.
“The scam email told us we needed to appear at court on a certain day and time and to bring certain documents and information with warnings about consequences if we didn’t,” Ross McCormick said.
The email has an attachment court notice.
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe warned that if you click on the attachment, your computer is infected with a virus and your security and personal information is compromised.
Fortunately, Mr McCormick did not click on the attachment.
“Ignore these letters and if in doubt contact your local court registry," Mr Stowe said.
“Whatever you do, don’t click on the link.
He said the other current scams included
Fake Energy Bills
This is a phishing email pretending to be from reputable energy companies including Energy Australia. It claims you owe money for an outstanding gas or electricity bill and asks you to click on a link to view or update your account and arrange payment via money transfer. If you click on the link, you risk infecting your computer with malware and having your personal information stolen.
If you pay this fake bill via money transfer, you will lose your money. Reports have also been received about scammers approaching consumers via phone calls, SMS and post. DELETE any text or email and ignore letters like this.
Telstra Scam Calls
As well as consumers, a Fair Trading officer has been contacted in the past week with the offer of a discount on Telstra services. The officer had not had an account with Telstra for a decade.
One consumer reported the scammer telling him he was calling from Austel, a telecommunications business and seeking to confirm personal details. Telstra confirmed the call was a scam. This scam is also designed to procure personal details from consumers. Hang up on these calls. Never share personal information or provide financial details to unsolicited callers. If in doubt, check with Telstra.
Government Reclaim Scam – on bank or court fees
Scammers pretend to be calling from the Government Reclaim Office. Scammers tell people they are entitled to a refund of varying amounts of around $7,000 and provided with an account number to pay money into or an address to send payment to. The money is allegedly to cover legal or administrative costs.
The scammers provide people with a name and number to call and often also a reference number.
This level of detail is designed to convince consumers they are dealing with a legitimate agency.
Foreign accents are a feature in these scam calls. In one recent case a consumer was told they were entitled to a $7,000 payment from a court case. The consumer had never been to court.
Accident insurance scam
The scammers start by suggesting someone at the address they have called has been involved in an accident in the past three years and the person is entitled to compensation of thousands of dollars but the caller needs to confirm details for their database.
This scam is designed to harvest your personal details that can then be used to defraud you.
“Scammers never sleep,” Mr Stowe said.
“They plague people 24/7 with variations on scams and new scams emerging almost daily.
“People should warn their friends and loved ones and always report scam calls to Fair Trading on 13 32 20 so we can track where communities are being targeted and issue warnings."
Be scam wise - stay one step ahead of scammers with NSW Fair Trading's free mobile app, Scam Buster, available for both iPhone and Android.
With the app, you can learn about current scams doing the rounds in Australia, get NSW Fair Trading's expert tips on how to bust scams and report a scam.
You can also report scams to www.scamwatch.gov.au or call 1300 795 995