Technology

Mon, 19 Nov, 2018Basmah Qazi

New phone scam trap: The chilling voicemail message you should never call back

New phone scam trap: The chilling voicemail message you should never call back

Thousands of Australians around the country have been victims of a new voicemail scam that once listened to, will stop you dead in your tracks.

The voicemail is of a robotic-sounding voice threatening a lawsuit against the receiver and advising them to call back immediately.

If the recipient chooses to ignore the call, the voicemail claims that an arrest warrant will be issued.

But the chilling voicemail, which demands the victim to pay off their tax debt, has already racked up thousands of dollars from those who fell into the trap.

According to authorities, those who are more susceptible to falling for the elaborate scam are elderly people as they are more likely to believe the voicemail, and once they call back, they are threatened by the fraudsters.

“The reason behind this call is that there is a lawsuit case getting filed under your name,” says the computer-generated message.

“The moment you get this message I want you to get back to me on my department division number. Now, if we don’t hear from you, we have to issue an arrest warrant under your name and get you arrested so get back to me as soon as possible. Thank you.”

A reporter received a call on Wednesday with the number 08 6102 5755. But since then, the number is no longer in use by the scammers.

Since July 1, the Australian Taxation Office has been alerted of 28,000 scam attempts, including this latest lawsuit phone call.

Speaking to news.com.au, Kath Anderson, the ATO’s Assistant Commissioner, said those committing fraud are becoming smarter and are finding cunning ways to exploit those who are vulnerable.

The phone numbers are always Australian numbers with this particular scam carrying Western Australia and Victoria area codes.

But according to police, the scammers are most likely calling from overseas and using a call forwarding service to obtain Australian numbers.

“Be wary if someone contacts you demanding payment of a tax debt you didn’t know you owed,” said Ms Anderson.

“Our advice is simple – the ATO will never ask you to make a payment into an ATM or via gift or prepaid cards such as iTunes and Visa cards, or direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account.”

While it’s assumed that the taxation office uses aggressive tactics to reclaim debt, Ms Anderson says the ATO never demands immediate payment of debts.

“That’s just not how we do business."

She adds, “If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call us on 1800 008 540.”

The ATO also advises people to refrain from handing out personal details over the phone, as 6000 Australians have issued their tax file numbers and bank account details since July 1.

“Your identifying information can be used by scammers to break into your life if they are compromised,” said Ms Anderson.

“If you’ve received an unsolicited email or text, or if you have any doubts about whether any contact is legitimately from the ATO, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to check.

“Scammers have been known to impersonate tax agents too, so it’s recommended that you hang up and call your agent direct on a number you have sourced independently.”

Have you received any strange phone calls as of late? Let us know in the comments below.

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