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Centrelink Warning: ‘Pay your debt or risk jail’

Australians line up outside a Centrelink office.
Centrelink recipients have been warned to stay vigilant about scammers. (Source: Getty)

Centrelink recipients have been warned about a scam phone call claiming they need to pay a debt or risk jail time.

Services Australia said the callers claimed to be from its legal team and that they pressured Aussies to pay the funds immediately.

Services Australia said the scammers claimed payment could be made through a bank transfer, gift cards or even cryptocurrency.

Centrelink recipients have been reminded that Services Australia will never ask them to transfer money over the phone and will never make unexpected phone calls with the threat of arrest.

Services Australia said it also would never ask for payment in gift cards or digital currencies.

“This is a scam call,” Services Australia said.

“If you do owe money, we’ll write to you via post or your myGov inbox to let you know.”

Centrelink recipients who receive the scam call have been told to hang up immediately, not return the phone call, not transfer any money and not divulge any personal information.

“If you get a call like this, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and report the scam,” Services Australia said.

“If you’re unsure, you should phone us on your normal payment line to check if it was us.”

While you may believe you are immune to scams, the data tells a different story.

Australians have already lost close to $300 million in scams this year alone, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In fact, $3.4 million in losses had been reported to Scamwatch this year for scams involving threats of arrest or threats against life.

If you are worried you may have given personal information to a scammer, Services Australia said it was there to help you.

You can call or email the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk at straight away if you’re concerned about a call you’ve received.

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