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Centrelink warning over $1,800 ‘bonus payment’

Pensioners are being warned to think twice before clicking these scam website links.

Centrelink recipients are being warned to watch out for fake websites claiming they are entitled to a “one-off” or “bonus” payment. In reality, the scam websites are designed to steal their personal information.

Services Australia has issued an alert over the unofficial websites and social media accounts. It said scammers were currently targeting older Aussies by claiming there was a “bonus payment” coming for people on the age pension.

“They encourage you to click on their site to read about a new ‘one-off payment’ or ‘bonus payment’,” the government body said.

Centrelink sign next to wad of Australian money
Services Australia has warned there's a scam going around trying to convince older Aussies they're entitled to a bonus payment. (Source: Getty)

Have you fallen victim to a scam? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com to share your story

“If you visit one of these websites or click their links, it may take you to an unsafe scam web page designed to steal your personal information.”

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In one example shared by Services Australia, the website claims pensioners are entitled to a $1,800 “extra” pension payment.

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“Don’t trust these unofficial websites for advice about Centrelink payments,” Services Australia warned.

“Only go to our official Services Australia website to get information about the payments and services we deliver.”

Aussies reported a record number of scams last year, according to the ACCC, with losses reaching $2.7 billion.

People over the age of 65 were the most likely to lose money, with losses increasing 13.3 per cent to $120 million over the year.

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said scammers were targeting older Aussies with retirement savings who may be looking for investment opportunities.

“We know of a recent case where an elderly woman lost her life savings after seeing a deepfake Elon Musk video on social media, clicking the link and registering her details online,” she said.

“She was assigned a ‘financial advisor’ and could see on an online dashboard she was apparently making returns, but she couldn’t withdraw her money.”

Investment scams continued to be the most damaging scam ($1.3 billion), followed by remote access scams ($256 million) and romance scams ($201.1 million).

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Scamwatch warns to beware of the following scenarios:

  • It’s an amazing opportunity to make or save money

  • Someone you haven’t met needs your help - and money

  • The message contains links or attachments

  • You feel pressured to act quickly

  • They ask you to pay in an unusual or specific way

  • They ask you to set up new accounts or Pay ID

Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.

Report the scam to Scamwatch here and make an official complaint to police here.

Watch out for follow up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.

Lastly, get support for yourself. You can talk to a financial counsellor or reach out to BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or here for an online chat or Lifeline for crisis support online here on 13 11 14.

You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.