“Calls of this nature are completely bogus – Fair Trading never contacts consumers about tax returns. Tax matters are dealt with at a national level by the Australian Tax Office,” Mr Stowe said.
“Scams involving the return of taxes, duties or other funds are fairly common, and traditionally there has been an increase in frequency towards the end of the financial year on 30 June.
“Callers often claim to help reunite customers with funds, asking for personal or banking details.
“Once they’ve gathered banking or personal details from victims, scammers can potentially hack into their bank accounts and siphon funds.
“Depending on the volume or type of information given, scammers could even steal the victim’s identity.
“If you receive a call that sounds too good to be true or doesn’t seem genuine, don’t provide your personal details and hang up. Try calling the organisation back on their publicly listed number and see if the offer is genuine.
“This particular scam last surfaced in Wagga Wagga in February, after previous reports in July 2012.
“A recent instance involved a customer from Drummoyne receiving a call from a female scammer using the alias of ‘Angela Leech’ purporting to be from Fair Trading.”
The scammers reportedly used the number ‘02 8090 9332’. When NSW Fair Trading contacted the number, a male gentleman answered alleging to be an employee of Fair Trading.
Mr Stowe encouraged consumers to remain vigilant and ensure their family and friends were aware of the latest scam.
“Consumers, sadly lose millions of dollars to scams each year and unfortunately the more people that fall for scams the more frequent they become, as scammers see it as a quick way to make money,” he said.
“Often scammers use auto-dialling equipment to cold-call consumers area-by-area, and there is a fair chance if you are receiving calls so is your neighbour or those who live nearby.”
On average NSW Fair Trading receives nearly 1,300 reports on scams each year and consumers should report any activity they suspect is a scam to NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.
If you have been a victim of cybercrime, including online scams and wish to report the incident to the police for possible investigation, visit the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) website http://www.acorn.gov.au/. If you want information about current and emerging scams and tips on how to recognise and avoid scams, go to SCAMwatchhttp://www.scamwatch.gov.au/.