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Wednesday, 17 Aug 2022 | 3 min read

Phone scams: what to do and how to stay safe

Phone scams are nothing new, they’ve been around for decades. Unfortunately, they’re getting more sophisticated at manipulating people into handing over personal information or money.

Is there anything more annoying than getting a call from an innocent looking number, only to be met with a robot on the other side?

There probably is, but it’s a close second.

“I am calling from the tax department, and you have outstanding payments that needs to be settled now.”

No thanks, I’ll just hang up.

According to scamwatch.gov.au, 50% of the 286,622 scams reported in 2021, were contacted by a phone call. And 23% were contacted by SMS.

If you’re not sure, even if it’s 1% of doubt, just hang up or delete the SMS.

You can always contact your bank, the tax department or any other company through their official channels to check if it’s legitimate.

It’s not worth the risk of falling for a scam on the slim chance that the tax department will charge you thousands of dollars if you don’t give them money right now.

Do not call back or text back, this will only confirm your number exists.

 

Types of scam calls and SMSs 

  • Payments to the Tax department – “You owe $2,000 and need to pay now”

  • Issues with your bank account – “There were irregularities, and they need your details to confirm it’s you”

  • Tech support for your computer (remote access) – “You have a virus, and we want to log in to your computer to get rid of it for you”

  • You’ve won a competition – “You’ve won a $10,000 random prize”

  • Dating & romance scams – A love interest from a dating app is asking for money

  • False billing – You are sent an invoice

  • Threats to life – “If you do not pay, we will hurt you”

  • Online shopping scams – fake items

  • Fake charity – appeal to your human side to donate to a fake charity

  • Jobs and employment – pyramid schemes

  • Law enforcement – someone posing as the police

Phone call red flags

Scammers are getting smarter, but there are some common red flags to listen out for.

  • Robotic voice

  • Poor call quality

  • You don’t recognise the number

  • Private number

  • International number DO NOT CALL BACK!

  • Aggressive/ threatening/ unprofessional tone of voice

  • Needing immediate access to your computer

  • Asking for financial details, like a credit card or bank details

  • Asking for personal details

  • You weren’t expecting a call

SMS red flags 

  • Generic SMS

  • Doesn’t use your name (some scam SMSs will use your name)

  • You don’t recognise the number

  • Asks you to click a link

  • Asks you for personal detail

  • Spelling or grammar errors

  • Asks you to respond

Report a scam

What you can do to be safer 

  • Don’t give your details

  • Don’t send money

  • Block and delete any numbers or SMSs that is suspicious or unknown

  • Let the phone call go to voicemail and then listening to any message left to see if it could be genuine

  • Register your phone on the do not call register – https://www.donotcall.gov.au/

  • Choose strong and secure PINs and passwords

  • Regularly update PINs and passwords

  • Never share your PINs or passwords

  • Keep your mobile and computer secure. Regularly check for security updates

  • Do not download or click on anything suspicious

  • Be careful when shopping online. You can use platforms like PayPal to help with paying for items

  • Review and update your social media privacy settings

  • Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!

 

What to do if you’ve been scammed 

If you come across a scam call, email the details to [email protected] – It will help us stop other customers from getting scammed.

It’s never fun to fall victim to a scam, but it’s nothing to be ashamed about. The worst thing we can do is not tell anyone because then other people will fall for the same scam.

We need to work together as a community to increase awareness and have the tough conversations about scams.

If you want more information about scams, visit – www.scamwatch.gov.au/

Tags:Security and PrivacyCallsMobile

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