Slam phone scammers: ACCC and ACMA

12 October 2010

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Communications and Media Authority are calling on Australians to immediately hang up the phone if scammers call, staying alert to this growing threat that can deceive people into providing personal details.

‘Over the past two months complaints about scam telephone calls to the ACCC and the ACMA have increased significantly from 200 per month to around 2,000 across the two agencies,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘Consumers can stop themselves being scammed by never disclosing any personal or financial details to these callers,’ added ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel. ‘Cutting off the lifeline is the best way to disrupt scammers.’

Of the many scams circulating, the ACCC and the ACMA are warning consumers about these particular scam telephone calls:

  • callers advising that the person’s computer is infected with a virus and requesting credit card details to fix the problem
  • callers offering products, services or cash under fake government grants
  • callers seeking bank details in order to process a bank fee refund or tax refund
  • callers offering to place the person’s number on the Do Not Call Register for a fee
  • recorded messages asking consumers to “dial 9” for a ‘free’ holiday.

The ACCC and ACMA note that these scams are also increasing in prevalence in other countries, notably the United Kingdom, highlighting the international nature of these types of cold call scams.

Forewarned is forearmed, and there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of being ripped off.

These steps include:

  •  Be cautious – if you get an unsolicited call and the caller requests personal information, it may be a scam. Hang up and verify who they are by independently finding their contact details from a trustworthy source such as a phone book and contacting them directly.
  • Protect your personal information and financial details – don’t provide your details to anyone who has contacted you out of the blue who you don’t know and trust. Even if they claim to be from a reputable company or Government department it may still be a scam.
  • If you get a cold call from someone claiming you are entitled to a refund, have won a holiday or have a virus on your computer, hang up immediately.
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you have provided your details to a scammer.

The ACCC’s SCAMwatch website has more information on scams and how to protect yourself. Visit www.scamwatch.gov.au.

The Do Not Call Register is a free Federal Government service where Australians can register their numbers to opt out of telemarketing calls and marketing faxes -  either call 1300 792 958 or visit www.donotcall.gov.au.

Links

Release number: 
NR 223/10
Media enquiries: 
Ms Lin Enright - (02) 6243 1108