Sep 06, 2023

Older Australians targeted by Seniors Card website scam

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A fake website charging older Australians for an easy Seniors Card application process has been called out by industry experts. [Source: Shutterstock]

Older Australians are being urged to use caution when signing up for a Seniors Card with a scam website promoting an “effortless application” process charging $29 for the free Government service.

Key points

  • Seniors Cards are available to people aged 60 and over who are a permanent resident of the state they live in
  • Cardholders will receive benefits and discounts on a variety of goods and services, including public transportation 
  • Eligible cardholders must also average less than 20 hours of paid work per week over a 12-month period, although states such as New South Wales do offer another card for people working over 20 hours per week
  • Applications for a Seniors Card can be made online, in person or via post, and in all cases, the card is issued free of charge

It feels as though online scams have been on the rise as more and more older people find themselves unsuspecting victims of scams that seemingly have good intentions. Past examples include couples caught out by artificial intelligence, thinking their children were in trouble, and an older man swindled in a fake relationship.

Now it’s a fraudulent Seniors Card website – seniorscardportal.au (we won’t link to it directly) falsely acting as an “intermediary service” to streamline the application process. As part of this streamlined process, they also charge $29 as a processing fee.

In addition, they claim to offer a priority service that will ensure applications are prioritised and processed with urgency ahead of regular applicants. But the website itself is littered with mistakes, such as American English usage of ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ in words like ‘prioritised’.

The company behind Senior Card Portal, Timely Holdings Pty Ltd, also has a postal address located in the Netherlands. An Australian company called Timely Holdings Pty Ltd had its ABN status cancelled in 2018.

How to stay safe from scams

If you, a parent or a friend, are planning to sign up for a Seniors Card it’s important to never use a third party – especially one that charges money for a free Government service. Executive Director Office for Ageing Well, Cassie Mason, told The Advertiser that older people should always remain vigilant when signing up for a Seniors Card. 

“The Seniors Card is always free of charge. You will never be asked to disclose your bank, credit card or PayPal details when applying for Seniors Card membership,” Ms Mason said.

To keep yourself safe, it’s important to always go to the source, which in this case is your relevant State or Territory Government. There will always be a .gov.au URL structure for States and an org.au URL structure for Territories, while the state emblem and Seniors Card logo will always be visible on a legitimate website.

Several State websites have also addressed the scam, confirming that no third party should ever charge for a Seniors Card application. Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Patricia Sparrow told Talking Aged Care that scams targeting older people needed to be stamped out.

“Everything possible should be done to ensure older people are protected from unscrupulous operators,” Ms Sparrow said.

“In this case, the WA and SA Governments have confirmed that this is a fake website and advised older people that the application process for the Seniors Cards is free of charge. Dealing effectively with scams is obviously difficult, but we do need to see swift action from our Governments, which we did see with the SA and WA Governments advising seniors when they became aware of the issue.”

If you think you have been caught out by a scam, or have seen a suspected scam, please report the incident to Scamwatch. The Australian Cyber Security Centre also has detailed information regarding online safety tips, and you can directly access Seniors Card information and application forms by clicking on the following links:

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