Police are issuing a warning for members of the public to be wary of potential phone scammers, following reports of people falsely representing police in the Southern Highlands.
Officers from the Southern Highlands have received reports from people who have received phone calls from someone claiming to represent either the NSW Police Force or the Australian Taxation Office.
The caller claims to be a police officer and tells the person that they have an outstanding debt that must be paid, or they will be arrested.
The caller then demands the victim purchase thousands of dollars worth of gift cards.
The number displayed on the caller identification is that of the local police station, and it is unclear how the scammers are utilising the actual number.
Police are warning members of the public to be wary of any requests for personal details or payments made over the phone and are urging them not to give any personal details or to transfer any money to people over the phone.
Community members are reminded that the Australian Taxation Office will never:
• threaten you with immediate arrest
• ask you to pay money to receive a refund or payment from us
• ask you to pay a debt via iTunes vouchers, or pre-paid credit card or store gift cards
• ask you to provide personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN) or credit card number, via email or SMS
• ask you to pay money into a personal bank account
• direct you to download files from the internet, or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
Further information can be found by clicking on the following link.
Furthermore, the following advice on how to protect yourself is provided by SCAMWATCH
• If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be a representative of Telstra and their call relates to a problem with your internet connection, just hang up.
• If you have doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly. Don’t rely on contact details provided by the person – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
• Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register (link is external). Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently or from anywhere it has been publicly listed such as in a phone book.
• Don’t let scammers press your buttons – scammers use detailed scripts to convince you that they’re the real deal and create a high-pressure situation to make a decision on the spot.
• Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
• Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
• Never give a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a reputable business.
• If you think your computer’s security has been compromised, use your security software to run a virus check. If you still have doubts, contact your anti-virus software provider or a computer specialist.
• If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
• If you have lost money because of this type of scam, please report the matter to your local Police Station.
• You can also report scams to the ACCC via SCAMWATCH or report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.