Consumer warning: Hang up on phone scammers | ACMA

Consumer warning: Hang up on phone scammers

Following a recent rise in the number of consumers complaining about scam telephone calls, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the ACMA are jointly calling on Australians to immediately hang up the phone if a scammer calls.

'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 Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.

'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.'

Many scams are currently circulating and the ACCC and the ACMA are sending out a specific warning to consumers on the following:
> 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.

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.

There are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of being ripped off. These steps include:
> Being 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.
> Protecting 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, www.scamwatch.gov.au, has more information on scams and how you can protect yourself from them.

The Do Not Call Register is a free government service that allows Australians to register their numbers to opt out of telemarketing calls and marketing faxes. To register your number, call 1300 792 958 or visit www.donotcall.gov.au.

Last updated: 16 April 2015