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Episode 40: The Latest Telephone Scam in Australia

The Australian Tax Office wants people to be on alert for scammers using sophisticated methods to extract money from their victims.

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace. This is Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

Italian

Nei tentativi di truffa, quello che appare come un numero australiano nel registro delle chiamate del vostro telefono, è in realtà un messaggio pre-registrato generato da un computer.

"Our department is investigating you and your family. We have tried to notify you regarding this issue but we have never got any response from you. So, it has been considered as an intentional fraud and a lawsuit has been filed under your name. In order to get more information, you can call our department number on 280 909 306. I repeat it's 280 909 306. Thank you."

L'Assistant Tax Commissioner Kath Anderson ha dichiarato che l'ATO non permette ai suoi numeri di apparire nel registro delle chiamate, e se il suo staff effettua delle chiamate, non minaccia di arresto immediato chi risponde al telefono.

"It's important to remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never threaten you with arrest, never demand immediate payment especially through unusual means like bitcoin or prepaid cards. We won't refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent and, importantly, our phone number does not project on caller id so if you receive a call with a call number projecting onto your phone, you can be pretty confident it's not from the ATO."

L'Assistant Tax Commissioner Kath Anderson ha aggiunto che gli australiani più anziani sono particolarmente a rischio.

"The elderly, people who are living on their own and what we've seen recently is, for example, one elderly person who over the course of about five months paid $230,000 to the scammers. Now what they do is they threaten these people, then they panic and that's when they end up paying the money."

Il professore di Cyber Security alla Università della Sunshine Coast, Dave Lacey, ha dichiarato che i criminali che fanno questo tipo di chiamate sperano che le loro potenziali vittime rispondano spinte dalla paura.

"Well what they're trying to do is elicit an emotional response of you where you're reacting without thinking, that's absolutely in the scammers tool kit, that's what they want to happen and they do that by scaring you and whether it's an arrest or a big bill or, you know, you're going to have your telephone line cut off or your energy cut off, whatever it might be, that's what they're going for."

Il professor Lacey aggiunge che la gente deve resistere alla pressione di dover prendere una decisione veloce, che è una tattica comune utilizzata dai truffatori.

"Don't feel pressured into responding to a contact that someone initiates with you even if they represent themselves as big business or big government. In absolute concrete terms, the Tax Office, Centrelink, Medicare don't ring you and demand payment over the phone. It's a process in government that is a bureaucracy, it takes time, there's multiple other long-winded ways they engage - so have a healthy sense of scepticism, do your own research and be proactive and make your own inquiries and make your own phone call and engage in that way."

English

During the scam attempts, what looks like an Australian phone number might appear on caller ID on your phone as a pre-recorded, computer-generated voice message plays.

"Our department is investigating you and your family. We have tried to notify you regarding this issue but we have never got any response from you. So, it has been considered as an intentional fraud and a lawsuit has been filed under your name. In order to get more information, you can call our department number on 280 909 306. I repeat it's 280 909 306. Thank you."

Assistant Tax Commissioner Kath Anderson says the A-T-O doesn't allow its own phone numbers to appear on caller ID and, if its staff do call people, they don't threaten them with immediate arrest.

"It's important to remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never threaten you with arrest, never demand immediate payment especially through unusual means like bitcoin or prepaid cards. We won't refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent and, importantly, our phone number does not project on caller id so if you receive a call with a call number projecting onto your phone, you can be pretty confident it's not from the ATO."

Assistant Commissioner Anderson says older Australians can be particularly vulnerable.

"The elderly, people who are living on their own and what we've seen recently is, for example, one elderly person who over the course of about five months paid $230,000 to the scammers. Now what they do is they threaten these people, then they panic and that's when they end up paying the money."

Professor of Cyber Security at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Dave Lacey says the criminals making the calls hope their potential victims will respond out of fear.

"Well what they're trying to do is elicit an emotional response of you where you're reacting without thinking, that's absolutely in the scammers tool kit, that's what they want to happen and they do that by scaring you and whether it's an arrest or a big bill or, you know, you're going to have your telephone line cut off or your energy cut off, whatever it might be, that's what they're going for."

Professor Lacey says people need to resist any pressure to make quick decisions, which is a common tactic used by the fraudsters.

"Don't feel pressured into responding to a contact that someone initiates with you even if they represent themselves as big business or big government. In absolute concrete terms, the Tax Office, Centrelink, Medicare don't ring you and demand payment over the phone. It's a process in government that is a bureaucracy, it takes time, there's multiple other long-winded ways they engage - so have a healthy sense of scepticism, do your own research and be proactive and make your own inquiries and make your own phone call and engage in that way."

Report by by Greg Dyett

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