Social media and internet technology might be omnipresent these days, but the old telephone is still a favoured medium for scammers.
The Australian Media and Communications Authority last month revealed the top five most reported phone scams for 2019.
The “winner”, by far, were thieves pretending to be from the National Broadband Network.
That racket usually involves an automated call that warns a resident that their landline and internet connection services would be disconnected within 24 hours.
If the listener presses the prompted number, they are forwarded to a human scammer, who will request personal details like bank account numbers.
But the real NBN, as a wholesaler, would never directly contact members of the public – let alone ring to warn of disconnection.
“If in doubt, hang up,” stated the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman last year.
“It is important to verify who you are speaking to. Never share personal information or financial details if you are unsure of the identity of the person you are speaking with. End the conversation and contact your telephone service provider.”
If such a call is received, the NBN advises contacting the police and reporting it to the Australian Cyber Security Centre. ACMA also recommends a submission to its Scamwatch register.
Australians lost an average of $110,000 each month to NBN scams in the first half of 2019 – almost 300 per cent up from the previous year.
The top three reported scams were all impersonation schemes.
Second most reported was tech support fraud, where the caller frightens the receiver into giving them control of their computer by claiming it has a virus that they can fix.
Once the scammer has control, they will themselves install a virus that will record keystrokes of the user – so later private data like online banking passwords can be harvested.
Number three on the list is the Do Not Call Register fraud. The criminal will claim they’re from the national Do Not Call Register, offering registration, “re-registration” or call blocking to prevent the phone number from receiving marketing calls.
But the scammer will then ask for personal information or even financial details.
ACMA Authority member Fiona Cameron said the new Combatting Scams Action Plan is in progress to force telcos to reduce the volume of scam calls.
“The project will put enforceable obligations on telco providers to share data and work together to identify and block scam calls like these ones.
“There will also be a trial that will identify where high volumes of scam calls are coming from, and have Australian carriers work with their international counterparts to block those calls.”
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