NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox warns of a range of scams targeting NSW consumers.
"Scammers target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels with online, mail, door- to-door and telephone scams,” Mr Mason-Cox said.
The minister described a typical telephone scam; “consumers receive a call telling them they are owed money from a legitimate organisation such as a bank or a government agency. Others make some fantastic offer, such as big discounts on airfares.
"The caller will ask you for personal details such as a birth date, drivers licence or bank account or credit card details. The scammers may also ask you pay a fee to obtain the alleged money you are owed. Often consumers will be asked to send this fee by wire transfer.
Local George Bunney was targeted in one of these scams, when he received a call claiming to be from a government agency.
“They were offering repayment of seven thousand dollars,” Mr Bunney said.
“I was asked to call manager Garry Smith, who claimed to have a cheque for me.
“I was asked to get a Western Union transfer slip from the Post Office; that’s when I knew it was a scam. The seven thousand dollars was the bait, and then they asked for $200 to cover solicitor’s costs,” he said.
Mr Bunney promptly reported the scam and came to the Narooma News office to help warn others.
The Minister for Fair Trading, Mr Mason Cox said that Australians lost almost $90 million to scams last year, but the real figure is probably much higher, as many people are too embarrassed to report to authorities.
"If you suspect the call is a scam, simply hang up. If you receive a suspicious email, delete it. If someone knocks on your door offering to lay a driveway, cut down your trees or restore your roof, close the door.
"These simple strategies are a consumer's best defence to the continuous variations of scams. If you have concerns about the veracity of the person who has approached you, obtain the organisation's contact details from a service directory and verify for yourself whether the claims are legitimate,” he said.
More information about scams can be found on the website, www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au, and scams can be reported to the National Hotline on 1300 133 408.