Avoid phone scams

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The season of giving is upon us or, as opportunistic scammers like to call it, the season of taking. Find out how to identify telephone scams and stay safe this festive season.


Today I received a phone call, which I believe was some sort of scam. The caller said it was in connection with money to be returned to me due to ‘overpayments’. They casually asked whether I would prefer the funds to be paid into my bank account or would I prefer a cheque?  

To avoid handing out my account number, I opted for cheque. They already had my address but had to put me through to ‘head office’ for confirmation.  I was given a reference and a phone number to call, which started with 02 so I presumed it was in Sydney.  

Anyway I called the number and a woman answered “Refunds for overpayments”. After speaking for a minute or two she said she would put me on hold while she confirmed matters.  It was not long after this that the line dropped out.

What I was wondering was if there actually is a phone number in Sydney how would one find out whose number it was?

Thanks for your help.



Hello Annie, it looks like you’re on the ball when it comes to detecting scams, as this phone call definitely seems suspect. The first thing to do in this situation is typically to do a quick Google search of the phone number which you were given.

With some luck, someone else will have reported the number and you’ll find pages where the scam has been reported, however this method may not always save you, as it can take scam prevention websites some time to become aware of and respond to threats.

If you are ever not entirely certain about a phone number which is given to you during a suspect phone call, look for it online.

For example, if the person on the phone is claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office, check their website’s contact section for that phone number or call them directly and give them the reference number that you were given. If they have no idea what you’re talking about, then it’s safe to say you’ve caught a scammer.

If you think you may have been the target of a scam you can report it at the SCAMwatch website.

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Written by ryanbo


Total Comments: 7
  1. 0

    I had an email the other day from the “ATO” which said I was entitled to a payment. of course it was a scam, so do not open any emails from the “ATO” as they do not send them.

  2. 0

    I try to verify phone numbers via http://www.reverseaustralia.com It’s free and there are often comments from others who have been called from the number I’m checking. It’s especially useful when receiving calls on a mobile (often from telemarketers) and the caller doesn’t leave a message.

  3. 0

    The problem is that to my knowledge blocking a number on your mobile only works if they transmit that number so your phone knows where it is coming from. If the scammer (or any unwanted caller) does not transmit the orginator’s phone number, then your mobile does not know it is a blocked number.I use caller ID which also helps identify out of area and overseas calls that could be scams. Please correct me if this information is wrong. I also understand that the Australian looking number format with STD code and digits that scammers give you to call if you are suspicious (and usually using an Australian sounding name) are cloned numbers or something and they divert to an overseas scam call centre or a fraudulent operator. I always ask for an employee number which identifies that you are suspicious and not a fool (if supposed to be Telstra or Bigpond) and that is not fail safe as they can use any employee number, name and the fake Australian looking phone number.

  4. 0

    I recenly had a call, they wanted to refund me $150. Asked me to open my computer and type in “TEAMVIEWER’ I recognised this as a program my son uses to operate my computer remotely. I told them to call me back next day,as I had to discuss this with my son. Of course they did not call back.

  5. 0

    I recenly had a call, they wanted to refund me $150. Asked me to open my computer and type in “TEAMVIEWER’ I recognised this as a program my son uses to operate my computer remotely. I told them to call me back next day,as I had to discuss this with my son. Of course they did not call back.

  6. 0

    Lst ime for me they said I want to speak to you about your windows computer I said I don’t have a computer – End of coversation



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