Phone scam calls can occur to both home or business numbers and within business hours or outside. The callers may be human or automated (robocalls).
What they want
Phone scammers aim to harvest information and to gain access to systems for further exploitation. If they see an opportunity to escalate the attack, they will. For example, instructing the victim to start a remote desktop connection or trick the victim into making bank transactions.
When you answer a scam call
They will claim to be from a legitimate business or well-known organisation.
The scammers often try to take advantage of trust, uncertainty, or fear. You may be authoritatively told to follow their instructions immediately, that you are at risk, or that you have an issue that needs immediate action.
What to guard for
Be vigilant when unsolicited calls claim…
- to be from government, utilities, banks or well-known companies like Amazon or Ebay
- that there is a problem with your internet, computer, or phone line
- that you need to provide personal, financial, or banking information to them.
How to protect yourself
- Don’t respond to unfamiliar missed calls
- Take your time, don’t let any caller rush you, and do not volunteer information
- Verify unexpected calls by requesting a case number, closing the call, finding the organisations legitimate number, call to verify the case number
- Only share your private or financial information over calls that you initiated
- Be cautious of numbers that charge premium rates, like international or ‘190’ numbers
- Keep informed on the latest on scams at the Scamwatch site.
What to do if a scam is attempted
If you think you have been targeted by a scam you can report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) here: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam.
If you have fallen victim to scammers you should follow the steps on the Scamwatch site here: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/where-to-get-help.
You can also seek help from cyber support services like IDCARE https://www.idcare.org/.
Many organisations have their own resources and scam alerts such as those for government services focused scams: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/scams-and-identity-theft?context=60271. Similar resources can be found on the sites of Australia Post, local councils, banks and telecommunication services.
The little black book of scams
Understanding scams helps you to stay safe. The ACCC produce a guidebook to the different types The little black book of scams | ACCC. Consumer Affairs Victoria also breaks it down in a series of short videos Consumer scams – Consumer Affairs Victoria