Cunning phone scams on the rise

Margaret was recently contacted by someone claiming to be from the ATO handing out ‘Hardship Grants’.

Scams, Australia, Phone, ATO, Federal Government, Centrelink, Grants, $7000, Seniors, Target, Australian Tax Office, Hardship Grants, identify, report

Margaret was recently contacted by someone claiming to be from the ATO, handing out ‘Hardship Grants’. Margaret gathered as much information as she could about the caller and then hung up, after identifying the call as a scam. Drew explains how to identify a scam and where to report it.

Q. Dear Drew,
I was wondering if you know of a program from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to do with Hardship Grants of $7000 as I was contacted out of the blue and told that I was eligible for the grant. I was immediately alerted to what I thought was a scam but wanted to pass on the information to see if you can confirm my suspicions, alert your readers to this type of scam and tell me who to contact in the Government as I still have the caller's phone number.


A. Hi Margaret,
We have seen a rise in the number of phone and email scams targeting Australians in recent years. The scammers have identified certain organisations they believe are trusted throughout the community such as your bank, the Australian Tax Office and even charities. I checked online and it seems you were correct in your assumption about this particular call with the ATO issuing a warning regarding cold callers who claim to offer tax refunds and grants.

How to identify a scam phone call
- you are contacted out of the blue
- you are not expecting the money or know nothing of the scheme
- the caller asks you to identify yourself over the phone by providing financial details

What to do if you are not sure the call is a scam
Chances are it is a scam, but to be sure, there is a simple way to find out.
- Ask the caller for their name, department and which contact number from the website you need to call to talk to them again.
- Never use the phone number provided, always go through the switchboard on the website.
- Type keywords relating to the call and the word 'scam' into a search engine such as Google. For example: ‘$7000 ATO Grant Scam’. Looking through the top ten results will give you a clear indication.

How do I report a scam and will it help?
If you are the target of a scam, it is VERY important to pass on  to the Federal Government SCAMwatch program all of the details you have collected about the caller, the names used, what they were offering and any contact information you were provided with.


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