The phone rings and an official-sounding automated voice leaves a message from a legal department.
Your tax file number has been compromised. A complaint has been filed under your name. Before it goes to court, press 1 for advice.
IDCARE founder and managing director, Professor David Lacey, said there were around 456 engagements per month to our call management centre with people who had pressed one and were caught out in this elaborate, “warrant for your arrest”, scam.
It was not the threatening automated message delivered robo-style that convinced people they were in trouble. It was that they were telephoned from the same number as their local police station.
The practice of disguising a phone number from a dodgy source to make it look like a legitimate one – is legal.
But the Australian Communications and Media Authority advises it is illegal if it is being done for unlawful purposes.
However, Prof Lacey said it is almost impossible to catch those using it for unlawful purposes and it provided scammers with the perfect front to appear legitimate.
“The best way to deal with these kinds of calls in don’t ‘press 1’, put the phone down and ignore them,” Prof Lacey said.
“And remember, police and government officials are never going to warn you of an arrest by telephone. If you are in trouble, they’ll come to your front door.”