Be on high alert: scammers are on the hunt

Last week, I received a phone call from ‘Telstra’.

“There are hackers trying to get into your account, mam,” the person on the phone told me.

Luckily, I smelled the scam a mile off. I played along and even went to the website they directed me to, which would have allowed them remote access to my computer.


Eventually I told them I knew it was a scam and they hung up on me.

But I’m worried about others receiving this phone call – people like my mum, who wouldn’t know it is a scam, and who might fall for the trickery and hand over full access to her computer to thieves without realising it.

‘Telstra’ is not the only one making unwanted phone calls at the moment. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is also reminding us to be mindful that scammers are out in full force, especially as we approach tax time.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson has confirmed that over 48,000 scams were reported to the ATO between July and October last year.

“Already this year, the ATO has registered over 17,067 scam reports. Of these, 113 Australians handed over $1.5 million to fraudsters with about 2,500 providing some form of personal information, including tax file numbers,” she says.

“One victim lost $900,000 to scammers over the course of several months, even borrowing money from family and friends. The large number of people lodging their tax returns means scammers are particularly active, so it’s important to keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious and protect your private information.”

People should be aware that Telstra, the ATO, and your bank will never call you and ask for access to your personal information.

If you receive this type of phone call, tell them you will call them back. Then hang up and call the institution back on their confirmed phone line.

If the enquiry is legitimate, then calling them back will confirm it.

This is what I did: I knew the Telstra call was a scam, but just to be sure, I called Telstra’s official line to confirm.

“Yes, it’s definitely a scam,” the spokesperson told me. “You’re my third caller about this tonight – they must be busy.”

If you, or someone you know, has fallen victim to a tax related scam, call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to make a report.

To report a scam or get more information, visit Scamwatch.