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.
Poor call quality
You don’t recognise the 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
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
If you come across a scam, report it to Scamwatch to help increase the awareness of it. You can report the scam here – https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam
If you are an Aussie Broadband customer and receive a scam call or SMS, you can let us know here:
Let your family, friends, colleagues and fellow businesses know about scams you’ve come across
If the scam occurred on social media, report it to the platform
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
Let your bank/financial institution know immediately
Stop sending money
If there is fraud or theft involved, call or visit your local police station
Report the scam to Scamwatch – https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact IDCARE – a free government-funded service. Visit – https://www.idcare.org/ – or call 1800 595 160
Visit – https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/where-to-get-help – for help on what to do
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/
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