A nondescript office in Dapto is responsible for thousands of scam phone calls.
But they’re not scamming people; their job is to help those who think they’ve been scammed or had their personal details stolen.
In May this year the federal Human Services Department set up the Scams and Identity Theft helpdesk in Dapto.
Through to December 11, the centre has taken 6,742 calls from people around the country, largely related to Centrelink and Medicare-related scams.
Emma Cuthbert, a support officer at the helpdesk said they deal with calls from scammers pretending to be from various government departments.
“In recent weeks we’ve received calls about a Medicare email and SMS scam, telling people they are owed a rebate of $200,” Ms Cuthbert said.
“Other scams have included phone calls from someone pretending to be from Centrelink, offering customers $5000 in return for bank account details.
“We’ve also heard about a Centrelink phone scam, where scammers are saying if people make a payment via an iTunes card they’ll receive a rebate.”
Ms Cuthbert said government departments would never do this.
According to the helpdesk’s Assistant Director Mark Cosgrove, staff offer customers advice on how to protect their personal information and can check if unauthorised activity has occurred or been attempted.
“If you’ve received a suspicious email, text message or telephone call from someone claiming to be from Centrelink, Medicare or myGov this Christmas, don’t provide any personal information, and report this to scamwatch.gov.au,” Mr Cosgrove said.
“We do send our customers emails and text messages, but we never include hyperlinks.
“We also never ask for remote access to your computer, or ask you to pay a fee in order to receive a payment.”
He said people should always access online accounts from the government’s official websites, rather than clicking on a link provided in a scammer’s email.
Mr Cosgrove said the Dapto-based helpdesk worked closely with organisation IDCARE to help victims to recover from the practical and emotional impacts of identity theft or cybercrime.