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NewsProtect Yourself Against Phone Scams

Protect Yourself Against Phone Scams

We have all received a phone call from an unknown number and while a lot of us ignore them, those that answer are often greeted by a would-be scammer on the other end.

Some scammers show up as missed calls from overseas but some scammers are from people claiming to be from Centrelink or the ATO.

Many assume because Centrelink and the ATO are legit, the person on the other end is too.

That is not always the case according to ACCC’s Scamwatch, “40 percent of scams happen over the phone.”

Major warning flags that someone is trying to scam:

  • Receiving unsolicited offers arriving by a phone call, text, SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia message service)
  • Calls or messages
    • From lottery, sweepstakes or other prize wins asking you to send money, provide private information and personal details to claim your winnings
    • From someone you do not know asking for money or assistance on behalf of your family. (They often claim someone needs bail or has been in accident).
    • From service technicians claiming to fix your corrupt computer or that your computer has been hacked

Here are the ACCC’s top tips to protect yourself from a phone scam:

  • If you are unsure or do not recognise a phone number or the sender, don’t reply to the message or try to unsubscribe, just delete the message. Most smartphones now can also block unknown numbers from ever hitting your phone too. Block the number if possible. You can also register your phone number on the Do Not Call Register to stop telemarketers and such too.
  • Never send your personal details, credit card or online account details in a message or give them out to an unknown person over the phone.
  • If the caller continues to harrass you, report them to ACCC’s SCAMwatch website www.scamwatch.gov.au or call the ACCC Infocentre 1300 302 502.

If you do receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Centrelink or the ATO, the real government owned businesses will not do the following:

  • Ask you to transfer money to an account with a BSB not held with the Reserve Bank of Australia
  • Ask you for a payment through unusual methods like payment in prepaid cards, gift cards, etc
  • Ask you for a payment to receive a refund or other payment
  • Stay on the phone with you while you go to the bank, post office or shops to make a payment
  • Ask you to update or provide personal information supply your TFN, credit card or bank details via email, text message or social media
  • Send you a downloadable files or tell you to install software
  • Read more from the ATO
  • Read more from Centrelink

The old adage of “if it sounds too good to be true, then it is” holds true when it comes to scams. Listen and pay attention to the warning signs and when in doubt, ignore the call and text and don’t call or text back.

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MemberCatherine
MemberCatherine from QLD commented:

I got a text message from optus, to read message open the link. It was a scam, they started taking money every couple of days, in $10 lots. Now i just use a load an go card as have lost faith in the human kind. 

FiftyUp Club
FiftyUp Club replied to MemberCatherine:

That sucks to hear. We hope you got it all sorted out and stopped. 

Charles Roderick (Rod)
Charles Roderick (Rod) from NSW commented:

I just received a SMS suppose to be from Coles telling me that this was a winner and this was my "Final notice" to claim my $1000 Coles credit card ..I contacted Coles and Flybuys and then registered it 

Penelope
Penelope from VIC commented:

We received a call on our landline a few weeks ago from a man with an Indian accent, claiming he was from Telstra and that there was something wrong with our computer. My partner said that was strange that he knew this because we don't use Telstra. The caller lost it and started with a barrage of abuse and swearing until my partner swore back and said some uncomplimentary things and they "battled" with a war of bad words until one of them hung up. We are also on the Do Not Call Register. 

Barbara
Barbara from VIC commented:

Been receiving numerous cold calls stating I pay too much tax. Kept them all on the phone for at least 20 minutes, then told them I am a pensioner with zero income therefore I do not pay any tax! That finally got rid of them. Just shouting and handing up did not stop them at all. Tell them you have no income and pay no tax. 

philip
philip from NSW commented:

I played along with a scammer when i had some free time, who said my computer had a virus. She asked me to turn my computer on which I pretended to do wasting about five minutes of her time. She said what do you see? I replied she was correct, my computer has a virus because my screen is blank. I thanked her profusely for the alert. She then realised she had been had and burst out laughing and hung up. 

Anonymous
Anonymous from NSW commented:

I have received multiple calls and still do from phone numbers that are not in service anymore, and Private Numbers also. When I say hello, the person doesn't say anything and hangs up. I keep a record of these Phone Numbers and when they ring I don't answer the call. They then started to ring my Mobile also I don't answer it either if it's one of the numbers on my list of scam callers. There are now 6 different callers on my scam list and 2 of them are from overseas as there are 14 numbers in their phone number. Whoever these people are I think they are a group of scammers but for what reason I don't know. Maybe to get my friends information off Facebook through me to possibly hack their Computers? I am on the "DO NOT CALL" Registry but it Doesn't Block these calls. Please don't answer any calls if you don't recognize the number as to who is calling you . . 

William
William from SA commented:

there is another one making a nuisance of themselves claiming to be calling on behalf of the nsw dept of health. they actually calling from the social research centre. it just a means to get around the do not call register 

Anne
Anne from QLD commented:

Hi. Recently I had two separate phone calls from people with Indian accents claiming to be from Microsoft telling me that I had a virus on my computer and that they could help me to remove it. I knew that this was a scam so I asked him where he was calling from, (my guess would have been Mumbai or New Delhi). He told me 'Sidernee' (his pronouncement). I then asked him what State he was calling from. There was a pause, then he must have put his hand over the phone but I heard him ask someone "State?" and he came back to me and repeated 'Sidernee'. I lived in SYDNEY for six years and I had a pretty good it was in New South Wales. I the hung up. The second call I received also said I had a virus in my computer, but I decided to play along. Pretending that I was concerned, I asked him what I should do. I was told that if I logged on he would guide me through it. I asked him to wait a minute, and after a little while I told him that I had a problem. He asked me what was the problem. I said that I didn't have a computer ( I do). There was silence and then the phone went dead. 

Anne
Anne from QLD commented:

I receive up to 4 calls some days which is really frustrating and worrying when your older. My daughter has received calls re an accident she was in.. She, however took a different approach and played along to see how far it would go. They were glad to get rid of her in the end. Great when your young and aware its a scam. 

Anonymous
Anonymous from NSW commented:

The people on radio 2NRFM (Newcastle) suggest giving these scammers a loud whistle blast, then hang up.... 

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