Too smart to be scammed?

12 August 2019

It’s Scams Awareness Week. Here are some ways you can protect your identity and avoid getting scammed.

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Many people believe they would never fall for a scam. But scams are always changing and everyone is a target.

Scammers are getting smarter and using new technology.

Scams Awareness Week runs from 12–16 August. It’s a timely reminder to stop, think and check when it comes to scams and identity theft.

scams week 19

How Ellen was scammed

Ellen got a scam email she thought was from myGov. The email said ‘the Australian Government and myGov’ needed to verify her identity.

The email asked Ellen to click on a link. The link sent her to a fake website that looked like myGov. The fake website asked for her myGov username and password. Then she uploaded copies of her:

  • driver licence
  • Medicare card
  • utility bill
  • bank statements.

After Ellen uploaded the documents, the fake website told her that in 14 days she would receive her identity verification.

Ellen never received notice about her identity verification. So, after 14 days, Ellen called our Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk to check. The helpdesk confirmed the email was a phishing scam, designed to steal her personal information to commit identity fraud.

We suspended Ellen’s myGov account to prevent any unauthorised access. We also issued Ellen with a replacement Medicare card and flagged her Medicare record for suspicious activity. Our staff then referred her to IDCARE for further support.

How to protect yourself

Scammers often pretend to be government organisations like us. They’ll use lots of different ways to trick you, such as phone calls, text messages or fake emails and websites.

Your money isn’t the only thing a scammer wants. Like Ellen, your identity can be at risk too.

Scammers can use your identity information to open fake profiles in your name. They can use these fake accounts to commit fraud.

If someone asks for your personal details, or your identity documents, you should be cautious.

For example, be wary of who you share your Medicare information with. Don’t be afraid to ask why someone needs your Medicare details.

Here are a few simple things you can do to protect your identity:

  • keep your Medicare card information safe, and always be careful about what personal information you share with others
  • use strong passwords, change them often and don’t re-use them
  • type in the URL instead of clicking on a link in an email or text message, for example
  • hang up a phone call if it doesn’t feel right, or you feel threatened
  • check your social media privacy settings.

How to get help if you’ve been scammed

Call our Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk if you think you’ve been scammed or your identity is at risk.

You can also email us to report a myGov, Centrelink, Medicare or Child Support related scam.

Reporting scams can help other people avoid them.

What to do next

You can find out more by:

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Page last updated: 1 October 2019