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Fair Trading warning on bank refund scam

WHEN Lynn McGrath from Ulmarra took a phone call to inform her she was eligible for a $7000 refund on bank fees, she immediately became suspicious that something wasn't right.

"It was a foreign sounding lady," Mrs McGrath said. "I assume it was an international call because there was a delay.

"The lady said I was eligible for $7000.35 as a refund on hidden bank fees.

"I thought it was a bit odd because I pay attention to details and always check my money going in and out."

When Mrs McGrath told the caller she was happy with her bank and no fees had been taken out, the phone call swiftly ended.

Many others from around the state have reported similar calls in the past few months.

Fair Trading has also received reports of bank refund scam calls being made this year to consumers in Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga,Tamworth, Muswellbrook, Taree, Newport, Bankstown, Kiama, Jesmond, Carlingford, Manly, Hill End, Warabrook and Gulgong.

This has prompted NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe to issue a warning to hang up on scam callers claiming to be from the Australian Federal Claims Department and offering $7000 refunds on overcharged bank fees.

Mr Stowe said the scammers provide people with a phone number to call back and a reference number to quote to get instructions on how to claim $7000 reimbursement of bank fees that they tell people have been incorrectly charged over a long period of time.

"In some cases, consumers have reported receiving earlier phone calls, allegedly from their bank or financial institution, claiming to be conducting a survey and checking personal and banking information," he said.

"This is often how scammers procure detailed personal information so that the follow-up scam call to steal your money can seem credible.

"Once they have a consumer on the hook believing they are dealing with a legitimate institution, they then request an administration fee to facilitate the transfer of the so-called windfall.

"It is a sophisticated technique and usually involves sending the person to the local post office to transfer money via Western Union to an offshore account."

Topics:  bank fees, department of fair trading

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