Most of us have been a victim of cold calling at one stage or another. But now the ACCC has had enough and has promised to get tough on scammers.Consumers here are starting to feel the pinch and conned out of ‘thousands’ of dollars every month from such cold calling scams from cons posing as representatives from major companies including Telstra and Microsoft, who have been working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to warns consumers of dangers.
Scams pertaining to the Microsoft brand have been particularly prominent in the previous two months of this year.
Few consumers are falling prey to the fraudsters, says ACCC’s deputy chairman, Peter Kell, however the sheer volume of consumers fielded every day is cause for alarm.
At best it’s hard to know if it’s just a nuisance call from a company or an outright scam. It is common to get calls from Telstra offering additional services so it’s hard to know a con from the real deal. And older people are even more vulnerable, the authority warns.
Some of the big giveaways to a scam are: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, a spokesperson from the Authority told ChannelNews. Also, if a caller requests money to be sent via wire transfer or other insecure means, this should also set alarm bells ringing.
One consumer I spoke to revealed that they have been subject to several calls from an apparent Telstra rep, although were unsure of its validity and just hung up.
And “it’s not just direct payments that the scam operators are after,” Kell warns.
One of the scams currently doing the rounds are individuals promising to fix a phantom computer virus and asking for remote access to their computer to resolve the ‘issue.’
And the fraudsters are not amateur operations any longer but are “well-resourced and highly organised international criminal groups,” The Australian reports.
The ACCC may also investigate the financial institutions and communications providers who provide them services.
They could also be after personal financial information they can access remotely if a consumer mistakenly allows them to get into the computer on that basis, he warns.
Telephone scams have risen 700 per cent since 2009.
“That is an issue that the ACCC will be looking at in greater detail later this year, along with other international regulators, to see if we can target some of these calls more directly and seek international cooperation, as we have in the cases of some other scams.”
The ACCC launched a SCAMwatch service in December due to a rise in
scammers looking for personal details off unsuspecting consumers.
Among the other common scams it identified are fake flight booking web sites, where consumers think they have booked flights online but the website they booked through is fake and so are their bookings.