A caller claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office says a warrant is about to be issued to have you charged for unpaid tax. They say you can deal with it by paying an on-the-spot fine, which must e in the form of a gift card. If you agree to pay the fine, you have fallen victim to a scammer.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard says it is “vital for people to be aware that no legitimate company or government agency will ever ask you to make a payment with any sort of gift card.”
Rickard says scammers like gift cards as payment as it’s easy for them to quickly sell them on secondary markets and pocket the cash.
Gift card fraud increased by 38 per cent to more than $5 million in 2018. The ACCC’s Scamwatch service reported that iTunes cards accounted for $3.1 million of losses last year – a 156 per cent increase year on year.
Scamwatch says it has also seen an increase in reports involving other gift cards, including Google Play, Amazon, Steam and Australia Post Load & Go.
Rickard says the use of a wider range of cards probably reflects that fact that there are widespread warnings about the use of iTunes cards for paying scammers.
Scamwatch says there are some other common gift card scams.
- The scammer pretends to be from Centrelink and tells the victim they are entitled to an additional payment, such as a pension top-up, and they must pay a “release fee” in gift cards to receive the payment.
- The scammer pretends to be from a big telco ans aske the victoim to help catch a hacker who is trying to gain access to their devices. They ask the victim to buy gift cards as bait for the hacker. They ask for the serial numbers on the cards and then sell them.