Smart Traveller and Scamwatch are warning Australians abroad about scammers who are impersonating officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and offering flights back to the country.
Smart Traveller issued an alert about the flight scam and said scammers were requesting credit card information.
“DFAT will never request payment over the phone,” Smart Traveller said on its website.
“If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from DFAT seeking payment for one of these flights, please hang up.”
Scamwatch has reiterated the warning on its Twitter page.
“Watch out for scammers claiming to be from DFAT offering flights to Aussies stranded overseas due to #COVID19,” Scamwatch said.
Watch out for scammers claiming to be from DFAT offering flights to Aussies stranded overseas due to #COVID19. DFAT or the government will never request payment over the phone. Check out @Smartraveller for more information and share this message if you have loved ones overseas. https://t.co/Fe17DzQWym
— Scamwatch_gov_au (@Scamwatch_gov) July 29, 2021
The real DFAT is arranging commercial Qantas flights to get overseas Australians back to the country.
Vulnerable Australians will be contacted to have priority access on the flights, Smart Traveller stated.
“We're in the process of contacting relevant consular clients to warn them of this potential scam.”
Australians who need travel advice assistance should get in touch with Smart Traveller through their online contact form.
Emergency consular assistance is available around the clock, DFAT’s website advises. People in Australia should dial 1300 555 135 while Australians calling from overseas should call +61 2 6261 3305.
Australians currently overseas who think they may have been scammed should first report the crime to the local police.
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Then banks and financial institutions should be contacted so cards and accounts are blocked, and then travel insurers should be contacted.
Scams can also be reported to ACCC’s Scamwatch.
Warnings about fraudulent activity and impostors have exploded lately as scammer activity takes on record levels.
Australians were fleeced of $851 million in 2020 over ATO and Tinder scams.