The following tale is worth reading....

Telephone scam / Identity Theft - 10.03.2022

Caller from “Victorian Electricity Department”, offering “extra discounts from the govt. ” on electricity and gas bills for eligible older people on pensions and health care cards.

The offer is for an extra 30% off two electricity bills and 15% off two gas bills, issued in 2022 … as govt. assistance after Covid-19 financial stress.

In order to register with “Victorian Electricity Discounts” you are asked to call a recorded message service on 03-7035 0215 and leave a voice message saying: “I want to compare my electricity and gas bills. My name is … and my phone number is …”. He would call me back in a few minutes to see if I had successfully done that.

Unfortunately I did that (to see what he had to say) and he called me back immediately.
By clever talk and distracting conversation, he managed to confirm my name in full, home address, landline and mobile phone numbers, pension and Medicare numbers. He already did have my landline number, name and suburb location (all publicly available) and email address (probably stolen from elsewhere).
I did ask why he needed my Medicare number, and he said that was for my proof of identity, so that the credits for my gas and electricity bills would go to the correct person.

He said that a message would be sent to my mobile phone to confirm this call, and he would call me in couple of days to check that had been done. I would also receive a confirmation letter by post in about 7 days.

There was a lot of detail about the date the discounts would appear on my bills (July and December) and that those bills would be headed from “First Energy” but would revert to my usual supplier after that.

As soon as I got off the phone and started to think about it, I knew it was a hoax and reported it. I called Medicare first, and they gave me the following phone number.

REMEDY IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED

Report it asap to -

Services Australia: Scams and Identity Help Desk
Telephone: 1800 941 126

They are very practical and helpful.

Steps taken:
Medicare card has been cancelled and immediately reissued, which has a later final number, and a different ‘valid till’ date.
Centrelink and Medicare both have warnings on my file so that nobody pretending to be me can change anything on my record or do anything without my knowledge.
They will ask me extra questions to verify I am me.
If someone posing as Centrelink calls me, there is now a password recorded, which they will not be able to tell me.
My bank also has warnings on my file (from a previous unsuccessful scam attempt) and they do ask extra questions when I go in.
Since I don’t really use “myGov” account that has been cancelled and all future messages will come by post. (Just to block another possible access loophole).

Cautions:
1. Foreign accent/ Asian
2. Name of organisation - dubious, vague (- in fact fictitious - try Googling it!)
3. Any little errors in what they already know about you.
4. Clever, distracting talk to stop you thinking things through … e.g.. How is your hot water service?Is it getting old/ giving any trouble.? Need replacing? How many solar panels do you have? etc …and you are drawn in to chat about that.
5. Remember to say to suspected scammer: “Just send the information in a letter” and hang up.

Questions/ observations:
* Would the govt. really make this offer by phone, or make a public announcement and just go ahead and DO it?
Therefore - it is not necessary to check personal ID details to receive this offer.
I asked: Where they are calling from/ street address ? …(a later Google check proved this false).
NB. There is no such company as “FIRST Energy”, but there IS a genuine one called “1st Energy”, who at one stage did supply my gas. (Google again!)