With the number of phone calls and text message scams increasing more and more each day in Australia, the authorities like ACMA are doing their best to spread awareness on the topic. Yet scammers get successful in stealing millions of dollars from Aussies each year.
In 2020, the ACMA enforced rules and regulations for telecommunications companies to detect and block scam calls. In the first year from then, 357 million scam calls were blocked, whereas, in a 2021 report by Scamwatch, it was found that $66.8 million were stolen through scams. Meanwhile, if combined with the reports from other organizations, the loss increases to $1.8 billion. Even today, 90% of Aussies get multiple scam phone calls or text messages every week.
So, how can one avoid these frustrating and never-ending scams? Well, here we’ll explain the top 5 scams used by con-men to persuade you into sharing personal details, giving access to a computer, and transferring money. Also, we’ll give tips on how you can avoid getting conned.
1- Computer access scam:
You may get a call from someone claiming to be the representative of your telecommunications service’s provider, like Telstra or Optus. They may tell you there’s something wrong with the internet speed, and remote computer access is required to fix it. Once they convince you of the whole plot, they make you download the software through which they gain access to your computer. They can steal your banking information and download malware on the PC too. This scam has been on the rise, especially in Perth.
When victims find out, it gets too late. Your bank helps by suspending your account, but it requires a certificate from a PC repair shop to activate it, ensuring your computer is safe to use. Perth victims can visit Master Computer, a reputable PC/Mac repair shop, to get their computers checked. That way, your computer will become free of any risks, and you could use it again with peace of mind.
2- “Hi Mum” Scams:
The “Hi Mum” Scams are operated through text messages where the scammer manipulates you into thinking he’s your family member or a close friend. The usual excuse would be how they lost their phone and are using a new number to contact you. They’d ask you to transfer them money urgently as they can’t access their banking information temporarily or use any other similar excuse to get money out of you.
The scammers behind this con mostly target women in their 50s and make them believe they are their son or daughter. The ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard says, “If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be your son, daughter, relative, or friend, start by calling them on the number already stored in your phone to confirm if it’s no longer in use. If they pick up – you know it’s a scam.”
3- Tax Refund Scam:
The refund scam involves you getting an email from a scammer pretending to be from the government. The email looks legitimate, using the real logo and text style from “myGov.” The email urges you to click on a link and enter your personal information to receive an immediate tax refund. The con artists behind this scheme can use your info to steal money. So, Services Australia warns people never to click on any links or download attachments.
4- Amazon scam:
You may receive a text message claiming it’s from Amazon, and you must click on the attached link to track your order or listen to the voicemail message. The scammer uses these tricks to download malware and steal information from your device.
In another instance, you may be told that your Amazon account has been compromised and is being used for making online purchases. To fix this, they may ask you to download the remote access software we discussed earlier in the article. Once you allow remote access to your computer, your credit card details get stolen.
5- Mobile service termination scam:
In this scam, you may receive a legitimate-looking text message asking you to update or correct your information, or your mobile service will be terminated. It asks you to open the attached link and fill in the form.
How to avoid getting scammed?
Firstly, it’s easier to fall for such traps when the phone call, text message, or email looks legitimate. These scammers are pretty good at what they do and devise sophisticated ways to trick people. They mostly use fear as a tool, and by instigating stress and frustration into the victim, they become successful with the scam. However, you can avoid being scammed by taking precautions.
- Do not attend calls with an unknown number.
- If you get a call from the bank, hang up and contact your bank yourself using the number you have.
- If somebody sends a text message claiming they are your relative or friend, call the person with the number you usually use to contact them first and if you can’t reach them, ask a personal question only they can answer to the number you get a text from.
- If you’re made to feel afraid, hang up immediately; whatever it is, it’s probably a scam.
- If you’re asked for personal info or computer access via phone, text message, or email, completely ignore it.
- If you get a call that you’ve won a prize, know it’s a scam.
There’s always a way by which you can confirm the authenticity of a source. So, no matter where you’re getting calls or messages from, do not respond and contact government organizations, your telecommunications service provider, or the bank yourself to confirm the situation. And in case you end up clicking on bad links and downloading attachments on your phone or computer, you would need to get your devices checked and cleaned by a reputable PC repair shop.
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