Buyers beware of scam calls

COFFS Coast residents are being urged to be extra vigilant and on the lookout for scams.

NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Oxley, Andrew Stoner, has issued the warning after an alarming jump in the number of notifications to government agencies.

He said that between January and August last year Fair Trading received 1019 scam reports.

“For the same period this year Fair Trading has received 2111 reports from consumers,” Mr Stoner said.

“Many of these are based overseas and appear to be using cheap labour to ‘personalise’ and expand their operations.”

NSW Fair Trading Centres have in the past week received calls from consumers which indicate the scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

One consumer was told they were entitled to a government rebate on their power and telephone bills, either direct to their bank account or by cheque. Another reported being told they were entitled to a refund of $5284 in bank fees.

Mr Stoner said the scammers were reported to have strong accents and tell consumers to call back for verification of offers. Often scammers will provide a local number which is directed to call centres which may be based in other countries.

Other consumers have reported being told they had been specially selected by the Australian Gov- ernment, along with 17,000 others, to receive a refund of $5284 in bank fees.

However, to receive the refund, they were told they had to complete a Western Union money transfer for $199 and call the scammers back and quote reference number RS990 to advise the transfer had taken place.

Then, they were told, they would receive their refunded bank fees. The consumer received a return call from the scammers, asking why money had not been transferred.

Mr Stoner said what was being seen was the combined threat of increasingly sophisticated scams, increasingly pushy scammers and increasing frequency of calls.

Mr Stoner said people should warn their family and friends, work colleagues and neighbours.

“Be scam smart,” he said. “Hang up, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 and warn others.”

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