Telstra warns hoax emails are on the rise

Media Release, 20 February 2013

With hoax emails claiming to be from high profile brands becoming increasingly common and sophisticated, Telstra is warning Australians to be wary of the latest string of emails asking for sensitive or personal information.

Telstra’s Officer of Internet Trust and Safety, Darren Kane said Telstra has received several reports from customers concerned about these emails which in some cases requested customers to enter personal information into a malicious website.

“It’s unsettling to hear of our customers being misled in this way but the reality is it’s no longer enough just to check the email address of the sender. These emails are becoming more realistic and are being sent from legitimate email addresses customers may recognise,” Mr Kane said.

The frequency of hoaxes is also growing and it’s estimated that each year billions of hoax emails are sent around the world, designed to target customers of various brands and services.

Mr Kane said hoaxes often evoke a sense of urgency to catch customers off-guard and that there were two common types of email hoaxes customers should watch out for.

“Many customers are probably aware of one of the most common hoaxes where an email contains an attachment designed to introduce malware onto a customer’s computer or device. These tend to be a PDF or a ZIP file,” Mr Kane said.

“The other common hoax is where an email contains embedded links directing customers to a phishing website to gather personal details.”

While Telstra’s security teams are actively searching for and dealing with these hoax emails, Mr Kane said there are a few key things customers can look out for if they believe they’ve received a hoax email.

“If customers are unsure about an email they receive, they can log in to My Account at and check the information in the email against the information within My Account to make sure it matches. Or they can bring the email in to their nearest Telstra Store,” Mr Kane said.

If customers suspect they have received a hoax email:

  • Do not reply to it
  • Do not open any attachment or click on any embedded links
  • Delete the email

Other steps customers can take to protect themselves include:

  • Beware of unsolicited requests for sensitive information – don't follow suspicious links from senders or sites you don't know or trust
  • If in doubt, visit trusted websites by typing the internet address (URL) into the browser address bar rather than clicking on a link embedded in an email. Save frequently used links in your favourites or bookmarks
  • Never respond to requests for personal information in an unexpected email or pop-up window. If in doubt, always contact the institution that claims to be the sender of the email or pop-up window
  • Use a spam filter to help block unsolicited and unwanted email

People can also visit Telstra's Internet and Cyber-Safety page,, for other tips to stay safe online – no matter what age, online interests or skill level.