Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more innocent people falling victim to scams. Especially during these uncertain times, it can be hard to know what is a scam and what is a genuine email or call from a Government Agency.
Here are some practical tips to help you stay a step ahead:
- Check the email address. If you have received an email from a ‘Government Agency’ and you are unsure whether it is a scam or not, please check with the relevant government authority that the email is correct or is in a recognised format. Government agencies including the Australian Department of Home Affairs and Australian Embassy will never send an email to you from a gmail.com, hotmail.com, outlook.com or other non-government email addresses.
- Talk to someone and take time. If you are uncertain, stand back from the situation to really look at what is happening. Before you provide any personal information or make any payments, talk to someone you trust and/or contact an authority. Scams can be so very cruel as they target a person’s emotions, and the scammers can create a sense of “emergency” to force you to act quickly.
- Do some research. By doing a quick internet search, you may find that a Department of the Australian Government have already reported on any current scams, or someone else who has been in your situation may have posted about it somewhere online. If you believe you have received a scam call or email, search the phone number or email address, you may find that it has already been reported as a scam.
- Be money wise. If you have received an email or phone call from anyone claiming to be from a Government Agency, and they have requested for you to pay them money, make sure it its legitimate before transferring them any money. The Department of Home Affairs will always provide you with an invoice and multiple ways to pay, one being an option to pay directly through your IMMI Account (if held). The Department of Home Affairs will not provide bank account details for money to be transferred to. If you have already transferred money, call your financial institution immediately to advise of the situation.
- Take control. Through technological advancements, it has made it easier for scammers to fake caller ID information. If someone calls you claiming to be from a Government Agency such as The Department of Home Affairs or The Australian Embassy, and asks for your personal information or funds, hang up and call back a number that you know is legitimate. These numbers can be found on the relevant official government websites.
- Remain calm. Do not become worried if you receive an email or a phone call from someone claiming to be from a Government Agency informing you that a warrant for your arrest or any similar advice has been issued, and that you must call / email or send money to them, to pay a fine or debt. The Australian Government will not act in this way. If you are concerned and would like peace of mind in this situation, contact the authority concerned on a number that you know is legitimate. As above, these numbers can be found on the relevant official government websites.
- Understand the Department processes. If you have any concerns about your legal status in Australia and you are being threatened in this regard, you should contact the Department of Home Affairs and/or seek professional help from an experienced Migration Consultant. Australian Immigration authorities usually have a complex process that interacts with you for a long time before they take any major action against you, like holding you in Migration Detention. This action usually only happens if you are found to be in continued and/or serious breach of regulations.
For resources regarding current scams, how to report scams and how to identify scams, please go to the following websites: