The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a scammer alert for consumers. The scammers are reportedly imitating officers from the Department of Human Services to get personal details or money.

“The ACCC has received a spike in contacts about fake rebate scams in which the scammer claims to be from Centrelink or the Department of Human Services,” Scamwatch quoted ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard as saying. “One hundred people contacted the ACCC about this scam last month, compared with 20 reports in May.”

Rickard added four people already reported to have lost more than $3,000 in the past six months. In that period, 300 people contacted the ACCC.

NSW Police Force posted the alert on its official Facebook page. The post says that consumers may get a call from the scam caller who tells them they are entitled to money but they must provide some personal details to prove their identity. The scam caller then tries to gather as much information as possible from the consumer for the purpose of identity theft.

“The scammer may also state that you're required to pay a 'fee' to access the extra funds, or else all Centrelink payments will be cut off,” the Facebook post says. “If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government department and they claim that you are entitled to money, hang up.”

Scam Alert! Received a call from someone claiming to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink? Careful, it...

Posted by NSW Police Force on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

When a consumer provides personal details to the scammer, they may be asked to pay the “fee” from the nearest Post Office or through wire transfer. If the consumer sends the money, it will be gone and will be almost impossible to recover it.

Consumers are also advised against providing any bank details to such callers as it will be used to steal money directly from the account. Those details may also be used for identity theft.

People who receive such calls can report to the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.

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