SCAMMERS offering bogus refunds for ‘excess banks fees’ are hoping to catch you out at Christmas.
Their increasing activity on the Coffs Coast has prompted Fair Trading and local police to join forces to catch them.
Coffs Harbour police have been inundated by phone calls from concerned residents, particularly from Coramba, Upper Orara and Boambee Valley, who have been targeted by the fraudsters.
“The scammers tell residents they need to pay varying amounts of money via a Western Union account as a fee in order for them to recover ‘thousands of dollars’ in overcharged bank fees,” Fair Trading deputy commissioner Steve Griffin said.
“They have also been asking residents for dates of birth and mobile phone numbers as well as banking details.
“Offers have also been made to meet residents at the post office to assist them in transferring the money. This suggests there is local involvement in the scam.”
Mr Griffin said one resident had been contacted by a person calling herself Kathleen Parker who claimed to be calling from the Australian Council of Reclaim Experts, a Federal Government department.
“No such department exists. If you do a search on this alleged business name you will find many phishing scam reports.”
Mr Griffin said NSW Fair Trading continued to receive reports of similar scams from other regions across the state.
“People should be extremely wary about anyone offering cash, refunds or other forms of financial benefit,” Mr Griffin said.
“People should not provide confidential, personal information such as PINs or internet banking logons.
“If an offer seems too good to be true it almost certainly is. Unfortunately, scammers will take advantage of the fact that many people are at home at this time of year and some people will be susceptible to the offer of easy money.”
Mr Griffin said the best way to avoid being exploited by scammers was to verify any claims or offers with financial institutions or businesses mentioned.
“You should contact the organisation directly by telephone or through official websites. Don’t use phone numbers given to you by the person making the offer and don’t click on web links in emails because they can take you to elaborate hoax sites that might look legitimate.”
Mr Griffin encouraged consumers to use the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission SCAMwatch website, www.scamwatch.gov.au, for the latest information on scams.