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Keep one eye open for the scammers

Keep one eye open for the scammers

It can be a dangerous world out there (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) but today’s increasingly digital lifestyle can bring some unexpected risks. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about who may be emailing, calling, and visiting your door – you just need to be aware.

We’ve looked into the most recent online and internet service scams out there to help you keep one eye open and stay a step ahead of the cheats. Have a pen handy because they are sneakier than you think!

NBN™ Impostors

As the NBN™ rolls out, you’ll receive plenty of legitimate notices from nbn co ltd. and telco providers letting you know when it reaches your door.

However, there are some crafty scammers out there claiming to be from nbn co ltd. and using it as an excuse to gain access to homes, apartments and small businesses around Australia. SCAMwatch has warned Aussies about NBN™ related scams seeking to get your personal details or encouraging you to buy equipment you don’t actually need to get the NBN™.

You should be suspicious if a caller or door-knocker asks for your bank or credit card details. It’s unlikely that nbn co ltd. would ask consumers for payment or personal details and your telco provider would have taken these details securely when you signed up for your plan. You should only give out your personal details if you know who you are talking to and understand the reason for providing them.

Numerous calls, appointments to sign contracts and asking for access to your home without someone present are some key signs that something is not right! As an added measure, keep on top of the rollout because if you’re being told you need an installation when your address isn’t even ready to receive an NBN™ service yet, that will be your first red flag.

If you’re unsure about what you need to do to switch to services over the NBN™ or come across anything odd, contact your telco using the number on their official website or in the telephone directory.

Booking a getaway

You may be familiar with popular accommodation booking sites such as Airbnb but watch out for shady listings!

Last month, SCAMwatch had over 150 scams reported via these platforms for falsely advertised properties and stolen deposits. With over $80,000 reported lost, complaints have risen to three times those in 2015.

So how do you know if you are being scammed? Scammers on these sites will direct you away from the site and have you pay via money orders or wire transfer. To be safe, make sure you are paying via a secure payment system as most legit sites will use these. Scammers may even send confirmation emails that appear to be the real deal so have a close look, double check addresses using Google Maps and always read the reviews left on the listing.

Dating online

Dating sites and social media romances are now so common that it’s easy for scammers to ‘romance’ their connections into ‘sharing’ their money. The MTV show Catfish may even ring a bell?

After creating trust using a fake profiles, the scammer will move the convo off the dating site and onto a less traceable platform to continue the conversation. Patience is the key with these scammers as they will spend months gaining trust and later requesting financial help for an emergency or even flights to go see their ‘lover’.

Trust your gut – ask lots of questions and keep your financial details confidential when dating online.

Speeding fines

Last year, Police caught on to suspicious traffic infringements being sent out via email. The emails appear authentic and even include the official WA Police logo. These ‘infringement emails’ include an infringement number, date of issue, fine and due date – there is even a link to a video as evidence. Keep your eye out because this scam has recently popped up in WA and it may only be a matter of time before it comes to other states and territories.

You should keep in mind that the Police currently only issue speeding fines by handing them to you on the spot or posting a traffic infringement via snail mail, so it’s safe to say all email infringements aren’t from them.

Centrelink

Scams linked to Centrelink are nothing new, in fact the reports are increasing.  The ACCC advises to keep aware of phone calls from people posing as employees from the Department of Human Services at Centrelink.

Last year SCAMwatch received over 2,000 reports of these scams with over $27,000 reported lost. Scammers will ask for money via wire transfers and will scare you into paying by saying that your benefits will be cut off if you don’t pay up.

The Department of Human Services will NEVER ask you to deposit money in order to receive payments. If in doubt, hang up on any out of the blue calls and call back using the correct contact details online or those in the old fashioned phone book.

Now that you know what’s going on out there, you should sleep soundly tonight. To stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter. If you come across something that doesn’t seem quite right, report it! You can report anything that seems a little fishy on the SCAMwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.

51 comments

  1. Jean Brunning says:

    I have called your help line three times,each time I’ve been in a queue and told the wait was1 hour. Yesterday(Thursday) eventually I talked to someone (Adrian)? and after another wait he advised me that he would call me back, he wasn’t sure how long. I waited in all the rest of the afternoon, he didn’t call back.. I rang twice this morning getting the same message.once again after an hour nothing, in the end I had to go out shopping. On returning home there you were on the answering machine. The worst part about this is that I have found out that my landline phone has been compromised and that I have been charged for scam phone calls that I did not make. Am I fed up with Westnet what do you think.

  2. marie says:

    latest scam aimed at me is that myself or someone close to me had an accident about six months ago and there is some price to pay or someone to be in trouble over. this came on my phone thank you

    • Erin Kavanagh says:

      Hi Marie,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and suggesting a scam to keep an eye out for.

      – Erin

  3. Tom says:

    Thank you Erin, forewarned is forearmed!

  4. Alison Fitzgerald says:

    I was cought up in a romance scam last year. I met a man on a dating site and not long after said he was in trouble. He then put about 17 phones bought through telsta and woolies pre paid all on stolen credit cards and the used DHL couriers to have them all sent overseas all on stolen account numbers through them. When i cought him out i posted him on facebook and scamwatch and found 5 other women he was talking to. 1 lady gave him over 70 grand. Protect yourself and never giver anyone money if you haven’t met them. Scam watch only give you the name of the scam not the names that have been reported. Noone has ever reported him so now if you google him you will find something. Jude emperor was his name.

    • Erin Kavanagh says:

      Hi Alison,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and suggesting a scam to keep an eye out for. Glad to see your advice and experiencing in reporting a scam has helped and alerted others.

      – Erin

  5. Caroline leese says:

    Still no email can be sent from my iPad
    Can receive email ok but no send for five years…
    This has been ongoing for quite a few years now no one at iiNet can fix it
    why would I sign up for NBN if you can’t even get the basic email account working?
    I should probably be due for a partial refund of fees paid as I am only receiving a partial service?
    Please fix this issue before I change providers permanently…

    • Brianna Burgess says:

      Hi Caroline,

      We’re sorry to hear you’ve had such trouble with your mail account. Based on the information provided it sounds like the issue may be with the settings on the iPad. Does everything work A-OK when you login directly to Webmail (https://webmail.iinet.net.au)?

      We would recommend attempting to follow this article: https://iihelp.iinet.net.au/Email_Setup_on_an_iPhone%2C_iPad_or_iPod

      It will automatically input all the correct settings and hopefully then be able to both send and receive. Don’t hesitate to give our Support (13 22 58) team a buzz if you need a hand.

      – Brianna

  6. Lucy Kussler says:

    I have receoved several calls telling me that they know that I have been in a car accident recently and that I am entitled to some compensation they can help me to claim. First time I almost got caught as my daughter indeed has had a car accident. Fortunately, based on the funny questions I realised this was a scam and I told them to go to where the pepper grows!

    • Erin Kavanagh says:

      Hi Lucy,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and suggesting a scam to keep an eye out for. Good to hear you were able to recognise that something wasn’t quite right!

      – Erin

  7. David says:

    Watch out for South African Airlines. I get bombed by them even after some unsubscribing and blocking.

  8. Karen says:

    I recently received a pop up website when browsing the Internet purportedly from iiNet saying that to reward me as a loyal customer, I would win an iPhone 7 if I picked a correct gift box out of a selection of gift boxes. The site looked legitimate and even had Facebook comments from people saying that it was a “real deal”. I ended up guessing a correct gift box and was then prompted to enter lots of personal details to claim my prize. Suspected something was amiss so closed the browser and deleted all cookies from the smartphone I was using. Have reported this incident to iiNet but have not received a response.

  9. Glenn Shaw says:

    I recently had a messages from Microsoft that my computer jad been subject to a major cyber attack. The screen was locked and the mouse was not working. The message provided a phone number to call a service agent. Being a retired senior I was very much concerned. I ended up paying $286 to have so called viruses removed and the computer unlocked.
    This agent appeared to be legitimate but when I checked with Microsoft their phone number was not recognised by them. Is there anybody else who has been contacted by Live assist nerds ? I can only assume this is a scam to get money out of unsuspecting
    people like myself. Fortunately I can dispute the payment through Paypal.

    • Erin Kavanagh says:

      Hi Glenn,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and suggesting a scam to keep an eye out for.

      – Erin

  10. Stephen says:

    I have had the phone call telling me about the windows operating system issue a few times. It is not amazing how fast they hang up when you ask them for the local police station phone number…….

  11. Eugene G says:

    Don’t forget the “your computer has been compromised” scam where “technicians” from Telstra, Microsoft, etc. direct you to a website from which you download a “diagnostic” program allowing them to “fix” the problem. Once in, there are a variety of backdoor apps used to record bank details, passwords and other personal information and in extreme cases ransomware is used to encrypt your photos and other data.
    Another method of installing ransomware is seemingly innocent emails from Australia Post informing you of a missed delivery. AusPost leaves a card in your letterbox, they never email so beware!!!

    • Erin Kavanagh says:

      Hi Eugene,

      Thank you for sharing your experience, this is definitely a common scam to keep an eye out for.

      – Erin

  12. wes James says:

    My internet speed is 1.3 mbps. My neighbor with Telstra enjoys a speed of over 7 mbps.
    A friend up the street is also with iinet and has a speed like mine.

    We are not on NBN.

    Should I switch to Telstra?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Wes,

      Thanks for posting – you’ve mentioned one of the more frustrating issues with copper-based services.

      Every individual premise is connected to a pair of copper cabling (known as a X and C pair) that are completely unique in their characteristics. It isn’t uncommon for one customer to have a slow speed whilst their neighbor across the road is connected at a much faster rate. This can be down to the quality of the copper, its thickness, how many joins it has, how it is routed and where it runs to. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

      What we need to focus on is maximising what your copper can do and resolve any ongoing complaints. Feel free to have a chat to Support on 132258 so they can offer assistance.

      – Leo.

  13. Anna says:

    I had the same thing as Marie from a person from some lawyers place about an accident that happened at this no.
    The person couldn’t tell me where the accident happened and something about a payout to us because the accident was not our fault. After many questions from me that the person would or could not answer, my daughter picked up the phone and hung it up saying it was a scammer. Be aware, be very aware of these types of calls.

  14. I too had a bill shock with a call supposedly from my landline on Christmas day totalling nearly $100!! I was out all day and only my cat was home. She does not use the phone.
    I called about it and was told they would check with Telstra. To date no further info is available. I think my phone system was hacked or scammed, but I cannot tell.

  15. Paul says:

    We were recently scammed with a false iinet invoice.* We reported this twice, once by email, once by phone. No-one has bothered to get back to us on this. What’s up? Has iinet been hacked? Has our iinet account been hacked? What’s happening?!

    * You traced this invoice back to an iinet account holder, who (if it’s the same person) may be imprisoned for an extensive period… .

  16. Barry says:

    there is one going a round about the federal police

  17. Nuwan says:

    A Scammer called me on my landphone which is registered with iiNET.

    He was trying to get my personal and banking details by clamining my Microsoft Windows licencse was not valid.

    If i gave you the time and date of the call, can you pull up the number and block him?

  18. Stephen sharp says:

    attention leo, I have a long standing problem with my connection. I would like you to recommend some software so I can watch my line and see when I have a long ping or a large number of packets lost.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Stephen,

      We don’t have a software recommendation for this, so we would suggest speaking to Support on 13 22 58.

      – Leo.

  19. Ann says:

    Yes Marie. I’ve had this also, when I said “I think I’d know if I had an accident and if I had I would call my insurance company”, they hung up.

  20. Natalie says:

    I recently signed up to an Aussie fund raising organization and now I feel really stupid. Not only has $50 been withdrawn from my account but it was taken after I had said to the lady,on the other end of the line,that NOT to withdraw it until the middle of February. Luckily I have mail so I can free call & delete any future dealings. Pity I’m out of pocket, though!!! & right at the end of Christmas!!!

  21. Peter Russell says:

    In November I had an Iinet pop up requesting that I complete their November customer survey. On submitting it took me to a second screen offering free health products as a thank you. We selected one of the offers but realised later that it was nothing to do with an Iinet offer. We had to change our credit cards to prevent being debited every month from USA.

  22. Alan says:

    I have been receiving scam phone calls supposedly from Telstra Technical Support. First time I was in the process of updating my iiNet internet, and so nearly got caught, but realised when I was asked to press window-R. This brings up an execution box that will allow them to download a file to the computer and then proceed to do mischief. They will tell you to type in a file name to run.

    Lately I have given the callers a Haw Haw laugh. Funny how they have such Aussie names, when they have a very foreign accent.

    Today I felt sorry for the caller and talked to him, and then asked if he had worked for Microsoft, because they told me the same story about error messages. He said he’d take my phone number of the calling list, and was sorry because he needed to work to make a living. Poor bugger, obviously not suited to the job.

  23. R. Talbot says:

    Peter Russell: Was it the Hydroxatone scam. It is a real, though marginal/no benefit and highly overpriced product out of Pennsylvania. Plays the “negative option” game that unless/until you cancel, they send you monthly shipments and automatically bill your credit card you used to pay the shipping and handling on the initial free product. If you fail to cancel the order or are away for many months (as I was), you can build up big amount owed.

    As an American lawyer living in Aus, I can say that this is on the cusp of unlawful in US and clearly unlawful in Aus. Call Hydroxatone and remain adamant about cancelling account AND not paying for unexpected monthly shipments already received. If not, report to credit card company to charge back the debit.

    I contacted iinet about this, but had no reply

  24. ralph says:

    In answer to
    Glenn Shaw
    January 21, 2017 at 3:57 am

    I had exactly the same problem, but a further problem in that the technician I spoke to jammed my computer and demanded I pay him a further $900 on top of the $300-odd dollars to clean my computer of viruses. He said, “If you don’t pay this money, you will never be able to use your computer again.”

    I ended up paying nothing by blocking the VISA payment I had agreed to.

  25. Lyn Fisher says:

    Thankyou. I find this extremely useful i will now be on the alert. Its such a worry these days.

  26. Tina Neuhold says:

    Phone call about my car having a small accident…hung up suspecting scam. My car has a few scratches which I did, not anyone else.ha ha.

  27. Trevor says:

    We had someone try to steal our frequent flyer points. Once they know a few personal details they will ‘request a password change’from Qantas. Then its all theirs. Luckily Qantas contacted us but each time I tried to lock them out they were one step with a new password they were one step ahead. Eventually I asked Qantas to lock the account; which they did.

  28. Wes says:

    What a great compilation of current online scams. I just wanted to add one that one of my family members recently almost fell for.

    She had been contacted via her gmail account by an American man working in security in the Middle East. He was married, my family member is married so the back and forth emails were just friendly chit chat about each others lives to start with. He then asked her if she wouldnt mind receiving a package for him as he was planning to move to Australia so wanted to send some stuff here in preparation. Of course she agreed, willing to help out a friend. The only catch was she needed to pay ‘tax’ on what he was brining into the country, which had to be paid BEFORE the parcel arrived and via Western union. She thought nothing of this as he promised the money would be within the parcel to pay her back.

    Thankfully she told a family member her plans and they then pointed out that this was a scam. She was to transfer $$ to a western union account but there would be no parcel that then arrived. The scammer was most upset when the money wasnt transferred and stopped communication.

    Moral of the story, never trust anyone online that you’ve never met in person.

    • Erin Kavanagh says:

      Hi Wes,

      Thank you for sharing your family members experience and your advice on things to keep an eye out for.

      – Erin

  29. Noel Bourke says:

    My telephone and Internet lines were down for 11 days. I made numerous calls to 132258 and discovered they incurred a charge of almost one dollar a minute. At the same time I received an iiNet mobile bill in excess of 600 dollars. I could not access the Internet to go to Toolbox so I rang 132258 to complain. I asked for some of the numbers that Inallegedly rang. One call of 57 minutes was to a number I subsequent.
    Ly rang and was greeted with an automated voice doing Welcome to voicemail Australia. I never made the initial call and why would anybody speak to voicemail for 57 minutes, now the my internet is at last working again I will make note of all of these alleged mobile calls and ask iiNet for full reimbursement. Is iiNet not worried that hackers are using our mobiles in their system?

    • Chris May says:

      Hi Noel,

      All data related to calls made using a mobile comes directly from our wholesale partner. If you feel that this information is incorrect I’d advise you to contact our support team and request that we lodge a dispute for these charges. We’ll then be able to investigate the matter further and ensure that you are charged correctly.

      – Chris

  30. Pam Hayes says:

    I recently had a very attractive pop up series of wonderful photos telling me I had won some holiday in,I think,the Caribbean and USA.I was intrigued and was interviewed by at first,a woman and then a man who kept on adding to the wonderful holiday and cruise. Then I was told I would have to pay $800 to acces this fantastic holiday for four.Incredibly inexpensive for .what was offered and must pay that day.I realised it was a scam and immediately I said I wasn’t going to be rushed,it disappeared. I can’t believe I was nearly taken in by them,it was very cleverly done.

  31. Tony Butterfield says:

    When iinet took over my phone from TransACT I started getting bills a day before they came overdue, and each time I paid at the post Office the counter person daid it was a real problem, as she had lots of people coming in on one day, all with iiNet phone bills, and most upset (one lady ahead of me was actually crying as she had to embarrassingly borrow from a workmate. This seemed clearly a way of getting money quickly. I phone iiNet and was told it was a problem with their printer, and when I was sceptical was told it was a “known Problem”. I asked when it would be fixed and was told laughingly it was a “low priority”.
    It will be cured when my contract runs out though – – hahaha

    • Chris May says:

      Hi Tony,

      I’m sorry to hear that you and others have been experiencing this issue. If this is yet to be resolved I’d encourage you to request to speak to a manager as per our internal escalations process – https://iihelp.iinet.net.au/complaints_escalation_process – who will be able to discuss your concerns further and ensure that we are doing everything we can to fix any problems.

      – Chris

  32. David says:

    On the 21st of January, Glenn Shaw wrote about his experience with ‘Microsoft’and I believe the same thing happened to me early in 2016. The computer locked up and there was an loud incessant beeping noise. I am pretty sure this is a scam but nevertheless got a great result by engaging with them and simply negotiating the price right down. The process took some time to complete but on balance it was no dearer than getting a technician to call around. So no complaints from me but perhaps I got out of it much better than most would. Yeah, it HAD to be a scam, or at best a ‘quasi-scam’. Ha ! Anyone who knows what likely happened is invited to let me know to satisfy my curiosity. THX

  33. John Vergara says:

    I email iiNet about a popup, not email, I got while surfing the net. It was the iiNet page format and said something like I had been chosen among ten finalists to win a Samsung smart phone. I copied the screen and attached to the email I sent to iiNet asking if it was genuine. No answer whatsoever from iiNet.

    Not happy and very disappointed.

    John Vergara

    • Chris May says:

      Hi John, thank you for taking the time to let us know about this pop-up and apologies that you have not heard from anyone regarding this. I want to make sure that this has been picked up and referred to the appropriate team to be followed up. If you could send me an E-Mail (c.may@corporate.iinet.net.au) with either the reference number from your previous E-Mail or the screenshot of this pop-up I’ll ensure that this is being dealt with.

      – Chris

  34. Peter Russell says:

    Hi R Talbot. Yes I’m pretty sure it is what you are describing. I was surprised that the scam piggy backed on a (supposed) Iinet survey. Very real. We cancelled order and changed credit cards so no real damage. Disappointed with Iinet as I informed them more than once so they could warn others – no response.

  35. Judy says:

    Re Glen Shaw’s post on 21 January and David’s post on 25 January – I now think I’ve been scammed on 21 December 2016 too – computer screen went completely black, there was a loud, incessant sound, and a “Microsoft” message said computer was compromised by viruses and to call to remove them. I called and paid $99, even got an receipt from “Microsoft Answer Desk” that looks all official. I’m really aware of scams and usually can tell when something is a scam and can’t believe I probably fell for it. I will have to check if this payment went to a scammer now with the bank and Microsoft.

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