The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer

14 September 2010 - 5 March 2012

Media Release of 28/11/2011

NO.058

Joint Media Release with
Tanya Plibersek MP
Minister for Human Services
Minister for Social Inclusion

New Centrelink phone scam rip off

Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek is warning Centrelink customers to be aware of a new phone scam.

"In recent weeks, we have received reports of scams targeting NSW, Queensland and Victoria residents and I urge all Centrelink customers to be vigilant," Ms Plibersek said.

In this latest scam, people are being called by someone pretending to work for Centrelink claiming they are owed a Centrelink payment of up to several thousand dollars.

The caller then instructs the person to send money, usually several hundred dollars via cheque, in order to release the funds.

"Unfortunately, some people have fallen for this scam and have lost their money," said Ms Plibersek.

"It's important to remember that Centrelink does not call and ask people for money. If people have a debt with Centrelink they are formally notified in writing."

"If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Centrelink and you are suspicious, ask for the person's name and phone number and tell them you'll call them back. Then ring Centrelink and report the matter."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received 42,000 reports of scams and reported losses totalling more than $63 million to scams during 2010.

The ACCC observed increases in scammers impersonating representatives from well-known government departments and private companies. Many of these scams were also delivered through unsolicited telephone calls.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer David Bradbury said people should not comply with what the scammers want, and importantly, not send anyone money.

"Unscrupulous people who perpetrate scams often target the most vulnerable in the community such as the elderly and people from non-English speaking backgrounds," he said.

"I urge anyone who suspects they have received a scam phone call to report any details to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on 1300 795 995."

Further information about scams can also be found at www.scamwatch.gov.au.

28 November 2011


Case study 1

NSW age pensioner was contacted by a woman posing as a solicitor from Centrelink. He was told that Centrelink had been successful in recovering some money paid by him in relation to a mobile phone account that he had signed up for, but had never used. He was told that if he paid $450 into a Western Union account that he would then receive the balance of his account which was approximately $1700. He checked with Centrelink and was advised that it was a scam and not to have any more contact with the person calling him.

Case study 2

A Queensland age pensioner was repeatedly contacted by a man claiming to be from Centrelink in Darwin who said her bank had incorrectly withheld $2600 in Centrelink payments from her. He told her she would need to transfer $500 via international money transfer at a post office in order to receive the money. He offered to stay on the line while she walked the five minutes to the post office. She later checked with both the bank and Centrelink, and both said there were no incorrect payments.

Case study 3

A Victorian woman received a phone call from a woman advising her that the she was from Centrelink in Canberra and that she was owed $2000 from a contract she held with a phone company. To receive this money the customer was advised to put $250 into a back account in India via Western Union, and then the she would receive $1900 into her back account. The customer went to the post office to do this, and the counter staff advised her that this maybe a scam.