Recently, some of our customers have been received telephone calls from some unscrupulous people, often with an Asian accent and overseas number or a Voip call re-routed to a Sydney or Melbourne number, claiming to be from a large organisation such Microsoft or Telstra or BigPond. Some or our customers have even reported an Australian sounding person is put on the phone if there is question on their legitimacy. The alleged person from Telstra / Microsoft is checking your internet connection or advising you of a virus on your computer and requires you to let them log on your computer. They send you a link to download a program such as Team Viewer and then without your knowledge or consent, install a worm or virus on your computer and / or try and access your banking or other personal data.
Some have even have the audacity to ask for credit card payment for the “service” to their computer whilst on the phone.
These scammers can be very convincing.
One of our customers had experienced slow internet that very day and was thankful that there was someone following up the connection.
Think for one minute here. When did Telstra or Optus or any other large organisation CALL YOU? I bet never. In fact, you normally have to call their hotline, maybe go through to a call centre in some other foreign country, explain your problem, then find that that department is the wrong one and be transferred to someone else, then be put on hold and repeat your account details several times even though you put them in the keypad when you first dialed up.
The chance of Microsoft or IBM calling you is pretty much zero.
How to know if it is a genuine call?
Telemarketing companies are governed by laws that require them to provide certain information to introduce themselves at the start of the call. “Good evening, this is Jane calling from Roy Morgan research here and we are conducting a survey on behalf of…” (a bank/ RACQ / the Australian Electoral Commission etc). You can look up ACMA telemarketing rules here.
If you agree to the survey, the questions you’ll answer usually involve a 1-10 scale or “very satisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied” kind of response.
Even when a charity calls to ask for donations or a travel company offers a special price for a hotel on the coast, they are required to introduce themselves and their company in their opening spiel. Even if they ask for credit card numbers if you agree to a sale, you will receive a receipt number and a telephone number in case you want to follow up.
How to handle calls you think are scam artists?
- Never give out any personal information or payment info, NEVER NEVER NEVER. If Telstra or Optus wanted to bill you, they have your address to send the bill.
- Simply hang up.
(note some people have tried this, particularly older Australians and the fake caller telephones back and may swear or be aggressive)
- Say “I have no account with Telstra/Optus/IBM and don’t have an energy bill as I use solar and I don’t have a computer” even if it is not true as remember, it is very unlikely these companies will be paying someone to call you up and see how your internet is doing
- “Wrong number, don’t call again” and be very firm and hang up, keep that phone off the hook for awhile. Get your children or grandchildren or neighbour to be rude for you if you find it difficult.
- Report scams at Scam Watch.
If anyone gets aggressive, remember, it is very unlikely they are likely to or in proximity to physically harm you and are just employing this tactic because they want to scare you into giving them access to your money.