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Customers warned to stay alert as phone scams increase

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phonescamthumbIt’s National Consumer Fraud Awareness Week and new figures released by the ACCC shows 52 per cent of people who reported scams were contacted by phone.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report paints an alarming picture of the growing number of telephone scams.

What this shows is that the shape of the threat has changed.

In 2010 it was all about internet scams but, as seen by the ACCC’s numbers, the danger has shifted to the telephone.

Darren Kane, Telstra’s office of internet trust and safety, is advising people to be wary.

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

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

Here are the most common phone scams:

* People impersonating representatives of well-known government departments and private companies.

* Callers advising the person that their computer has been infected with a virus and asking for a credit card to fix the issue.

* Person seeking bank details to sort pay a bank fee refund or a tax refund.

* Fake surveys and scam surveys.

Here are the tips to avoid phone scams:

* If you receive a suspicious call, ask for the person’s name and whom they represent.

* If you suspect the person is not legitimate hang up immediately and call the organisation that they claim to represent.

* Do not give out personal information, credit card details on online account details over the phone unless you made the call to a trusted organisation.

* Do not respond if you receive a text message or a missed call from an unknown number.

* Be wary of numbers starting with 190 – these are charged at a premium rate even if you are just receiving a call or a message.

* Hang up immediately if you are in the least bit suspicious.

Customers should also be aware of scams which are being sent to mobile phones via SMS.

SMS gives scammers a faceless way to communicate with potential victims and often promise prizes which require money to claim.

Here’s how to avoid SMS scams:

* Don’t call a number contained within a scam SMS.

* Beware of SMS and MMS that start with 19 – these are premium rate and can cost money to send and to receive.

* Never reply to an SMS from a number or person you can’t identify.

* Report SMS scams to the ACCC by calling 1300 795 995.

For more information go to www.telstra.com.au/cyber-safety.

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