Media Release, 20 March 2012

Telstra is urging consumers, as part of National Consumer Fraud Awareness Week 2012, to be wary of the growing number of telephone scams being reported.

New figures released by the ACCC* this week show 52 percent of people who reported scams in 2011 said they were contacted via telephone.

Telstra’s Officer of Internet Trust and Safety, Darren Kane said the report demonstrated a shift in the preferred scam method, from online in 2010 to telephone in 2011.

“Scammers are using phones for ‘high volume scams’ that are delivered to a large group of people with the aim of causing a small loss to each person.”

“Telstra is warning customers to be alert to attempts to defraud them of money or to trick them into disclosing personal information,” Mr Kane said.

Common phone scams include:

  • Callers impersonating representatives of well-known government departments and private companies.
  • Callers advising that the person’s computer is infected with a virus and requesting credit card details to fix the problem.
  • Calls seeking bank details in order to process a bank fee refund or tax refund.
  • Calls conducting fake surveys or scam surveys.

Tips to avoid phone scams:

  • If you receive such a phone call, always ask for the name of the person you are speaking to and who they represent.
  • If you’re not sure that the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate, then hang up and call the organisation by using their official contact details
  • Do not share your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • Don’t respond to text messages or missed calls that come from numbers you don’t recognise.
  • Be careful of phone numbers beginning with 190. These are charged at a premium rate and can be expensive.
  • If your alarm bells are ringing or you think something’s not quite right, just hang up / press delete

Scam text messages are another growing trend consumers should be aware of. 

“SMS is a great way to communicate or get things done quickly, without having to be face-to-face.  Unfortunately, scammers also love the faceless nature of SMS, using it to hide their identity,” Mr Kane said.

“Some common SMS tricks include texts promising unexpected prizes that require you to send money in order to claim them and mysterious text messages that can cost you a lot of money if your reply to them.”

Tips to avoid SMS scams:

  • Never call a telephone number contained in a spam SMS.
  • Look out for SMS and MMS numbers that start with 19. These are charged at a premium rate and can be expensive.
  • Never reply to an SMS from a number or person you can’t identify (even to unsubscribe).
  • Report SMS scams to the ACCC by visiting the SCAMwatch website scamwatch.gov.au

Telstra is a principal partner of Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s (ACFT) National Consumer Fraud Week 2012 which runs from 19 to 25 March.

More information:
Telstra’s Internet and Cyber-Safety site contains information to help Australians of all ages have a positive online experience.

More information: telstra.com.au/cyber-safety.

*According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scams Activity Report 2011, released 19 March 2012, unsolicited telephone scams rose from 14,144 reports in 2010 to 42,977 reports in 2011. Scams delivered by telephone represented 52 per cent of all scams reported, while scams delivered by text message represented 6.5 per cent.