Warning issued over govt refund phone scam

WHEN a legitimate-sounding body says they owe you $8000 you would keep listening, right?

Debbie Otto, from Bororen, had a call last week from someone who knew her personal details, and said the Federal Government would deliver a cheque, for money owing to her, for the cost of $198.

"I said, but the government don't handle the cheques themselves," she said.

"I said it was a scam and they hung up."

Debbie is not the only one - the Office of Fair Trading is warning of scammers phoning Queenslanders, claiming to be from an Australian Government department, offering refunds on "overpaid utilities".

Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said people should recognise these calls for what they are - a blatant scam - and hang up.

"The scammers claim to be from the Australian Government 'Reclaims Department' and say that, for a small legal fee of around $100, you can claim a refund of between $5000 and $7000 for excess utility payments," Mr Bauer said.

"No such government agency exists, and no government agency would ever seek a direct deposit fee or wire transfer in return for a refund.

"Never provide your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call. Don't call using phone numbers provided to you - always look up the number for yourself.

"Scammers often pose as well-known and reputable businesses to try to convince you that they're the real deal.

"Be wary if you receive a phone call or an email from a government agency claiming you are entitled to a refund or some other benefit.

"If you believe you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately."

If in doubt, simply hang up and contact the Office of Fair Trading on 13 74 68.

You also can report a scam at or by calling 1300 795 995.

Topics:  fair trading phone scam scam

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