New Centrelink helpline launched to protect scam victims
A SCAMS helpline to protect welfare recipients from thieves impersonating Centrelink staff has been launched by the Federal Government.
Aggressive callers claiming to represent Centrelink threaten welfare recipients that their benefits will be cut off within days if they do not pay up debts.
Scammers use phone, email, text messages and social media accounts to contact people.
The launch of the helpline, which comes at the start of Scams Awareness Week, is designed to help clients protect themselves from further financial loss by increasing the security settings around their Centrelink accounts, or referring them to external agencies which specialise in helping scam victims.
The Department of Human Services received more than 1270 calls for help in the past six months from people who had either lost money, or had passed on sensitive personal information that might be used to steal their identity.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch service received almost 33,000 reports of threat-based impersonation scams in 2017 where people claimed to be from a variety of government departments.
Over $4.7 million was lost and more than 2800 people gave their personal information to scammers.
The scams helpline number 1800 941 126 is only open to Centrelink clients who are on welfare payment.
For more information about scams and how to avoid them, visit humanservices.gov.au/scams.