Warning: Five phone scams to avoid

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Warning: Five phone scams to avoid

ACCC and ACMA advise Australians to "hang up" on scammers.

Fraudsters posing as Microsoft technicians are among the five most concerning telephone scams listed by competition and telecommunications regulators today in an attempt to warn users to be more vigilant.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) released a joint statement today urging Australians to "immediately hang up the phone" on telephone scams.

Reports of scam telephone calls to both regulators have skyrocketed from 200 per month to around 2000 in recent months.

The regulators were particularly concerned about scams that involved:

  • Callers advising that the person's computer is infected with a virus and requesting credit card details to fix the problem. Today, the Western Australian Department of Commerce warned that over 150 people in the state had been duped into paying between $125 and $220 by fake Microsoft technicians.
  • Callers offering products, services or cash under fake government grants. Legitimate information is available on government web sites and rarely administered through outbound call centres.
  • Callers seeking bank details in order to process a bank fee refund or tax refund - a classic phishing technique also used by fraudsters via email.
  • Callers offering to place the person's number on the Do Not Call Register for a fee. The register is free.
  • Recorded messages asking consumers to 'dial 9' for a 'free' holiday.

The regulators advised those receiving "a cold call from someone claiming you are entitled to a refund, have won a holiday or have a virus on your computer" to "hang up immediately."

Those that feel they may have been duped are urged to contact legitimate sources of information (such as their bank) immediately.

"Consumers can stop themselves being scammed by never disclosing any personal or financial details to these callers," said ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel.

"Cutting off the lifeline is the best way to disrupt scammers."

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