Phone Scam

Telstra warns WA's consumers to be wary of scams

Telstra is reminding people to be extremely wary of scammers who attempt to obtain their personal information via telephone and online.

Figures released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) show the number of scams continues to rise in Australia, with telephone calls the most common scam in Australia in 2013, increasing by 13 per cent to 39,921. Among the most prominent telephone scams reported are fake call centre operators impersonating technical staff from different organisations, including Telstra.

During the same period, the ACCC received nearly 37,000 reports about online scams involving internet and email, representing increases of almost 47 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. The combined financial losses of Australians involved in telephone and online scams this past year was more than $71 million.

Telstra Area General Manager Boyd Brown said the ACCC's figures are a timely reminder that personal information is a valuable asset and there are criminals who will go to great lengths to get access to it.

"The criminals operating these scams have only one thing in mind and that is to try and trick consumers into disclosing their personal details so those details can then be used illegally," he said.

"The increasing number of these type of scams is concerning and consumers should be alert to any attempts to trick them into disclosing their credit card or banking details over the telephone, via email or the internet."

"Telstra is encouraging consumers to protect their personal information and be particularly wary of telephone calls from numbers they don't recognise, or emails sent from companies and addresses that aren't familiar."

To report a scam contact the ACCC by calling 1300 795 995 or visit the SCAMwatch website at www.scamwatch.gov.au.

Telstra's t ips to avoid email and internet scams include:

- Beware of unsolicited requests for sensitive information - don't click on embedded links in emails or sites you don't know or trust.

- If in doubt, visit trusted websites by typing the internet address (URL) directly into the browser address bar, rather than clicking on a link embedded in an email.

- Never respond to requests for personal information in an unexpected email or pop-up window.

- If in doubt, always contact the company that claims to be the sender of the email or pop-up window, using their official contact details.

- Make sure all your devices are protected with regular updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

- Use a spam filter to help block unsolicited and unwanted email.

- If you're not sure that the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate, hang up and call the organisation by using their official contact details.

- Be wary of sharing personal, credit card or banking details over the phone, unless you've made the call or the phone number came from a trusted source.

- Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.

- Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

- If your alarm bells are ringing or you think something's not quite right, just hang up.

Common online shopping scams the ACCC has identified on its website include:

  • Classifieds ads - Appearing on legitimate classifieds websites for cheaply priced popular items, and requiring payment prior to receipt of the goods. Once the payment is made the seller does not provide the goods, and cannot be contacted.
  • Overpayment scams - A scammer replies to a seller with an overly generous offer, then requests the seller transfer the extra money into an overseas bank account. Once the amount is transferred the seller discovers the original payment bounces, or was phony. They're left out of pocket and without the sales item if they've already despatched it to the 'buyer'.

Common telephone scams the ACCC has identified on its website include:

  • SMS Trivia scams - A text message from an unknown number encourages the recipient to enter into a trivia competition. The recipient is charged to reply and then for each subsequent text, resulting in high phone bills.
  • Missed call scams - Similar to SMS trivia scams, the receiver returns a missed call, only to be charged at a premium rate for the call and can then be lured into ongoing communications by the promise of prizes, cash or bargain priced goods.