Scam call complaints skyrocket

Tuesday, 12 October, 2010

Consumer complaints regarding scam telephone calls in Australia have increased tenfold over the last eight weeks, prompting the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to issue fresh warnings to customers.

“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 2000 across the two agencies,” said Chris Chapman, Chairman of ACMA.

The increase is alarming given the damage that these scams can do.

In particular, ACMA and the ACCC are warning of the following scams:

  • Callers that claim the consumer’s computer is infected with a virus, and request credit card details to fix the problem
  • Callers that offer products, services or cash under apparent government grants, which are actually fraudulent
  • Callers that request bank details in order to process a bank fee refund or tax refund
  • Callers that offer to place the consumer’s telephone number on the Do Not Call Register for a fee
  • Recorded messages that ask consumers to “dial 9” for a free holiday

The consumer bodies’ advice is fairly simple. According to ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel, “Consumers can stop themselves being scammed by never disclosing any personal or financial details to these callers. Cutting off the lifeline is the best way to disrupt scammers.”

More information on how consumers can protect themselves from scams is available on the ACCC’s SCAMwatch website, at www.scamwatch.gov.au.

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