Visa holders warned to watch out for potential scammers

25 July 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) are warning people who have migrated to Australia or hold a temporary visa to be wary of a scam which may target them.

Scammers impersonating government officials are calling migrants and claiming that there is a problem with their ‘Citizenship and Immigration Services Alien’ (CISA) number. The scam victim is told that they must immediately pay an upfront fee, usually about $900, to fix their CISA number or they risk deportation.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said that the ACCC has received 60 reports of this scam this year with more than $20,000 reported lost.

“Be on guard as scammers will go to great lengths to get to know you. Don’t be fooled because someone has your personal information such as address, birth date, visa status or nationality because these details can be collected online through websites and social networking forums,” Ms Rickard said.

A DIAC spokesman said it was a well-organised ruse to con migrants into transferring an “unpaid Government fee”, when the purported ‘CISA’ number does not exist.

“Immigration has received information from a number of clients who have been approached for their CISA number, demanding that a fee is paid and threatening deportation if it is not,” the spokesman said.

“The Australian Government will never call you to demand a payment in relation to your visa so if you receive this call, hang up.”

Ms Rickard said that scammers may try to pressure you by repeatedly calling and harassing you – but if you give your money to a scammer you will never see it again.

“Never send money or give your account details to a stranger. Scammers may not only steal what’s in your account but use what you have provided to steal your identity. Anyone who receives this type of call seeking payment should ignore the demands for payment and report it immediately,” Ms Rickard said.

There is only one official Australian Government provider of visas – the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. It is important to report such incidents to the relevant state or territory police and to the Immigration Dob-In Line on 1800 009 623.

For further information, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au
 

Release number: 
171/13
Media enquiries: 
Ms Meg Macfarlan - (03) 9290 1836 or 0408 995 408

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