Took great pleasure in telling a recent caller "This call is a scam" and hanging up the phone in his ear - right after a short, clumsy intro which alerted me to the fact that he was going to request remote access to my personal computer because Microsoft software supposedly had a virus only he could fix.
As bogus anti-virus alerts and other scams (eg.,callers offering products, services or cash under fake government grants/seeking bank details in order to process a bank fee refund or tax refund/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/incomplete messages which solicit a billable call back/work at home offers) happen at least a couple of times a year to many people and successful cybercrime/scamming cost $63M in 2010, it is worth remembering the ACCC's advice at the beginning of every call received from a stranger:
* If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone about your computer system’s security status, hang up.
* NEVER give a stranger remote access to your computer.
* Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
* Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall - but only purchase the software from a source that you know and trust.
* If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
Consumer fraud from all sources costs an estimated $1 billion annually according to the Australian Institute of Criminology and there is an invitation on its website to take part in the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce Survey 2011.
Even politicians are not immune from scam attempts according to the Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin:
“Lately a number of local people have been in touch with me about emails they’ve been sent claiming to be from the Tax Office offering a tax refund, but requiring bank or credit card details and tax file number. I have received these emails as well.
The Tax Office will never ask for your personal information such as credit card details, date of birth, tax file number, passwords etc.
If you are suspicious of any online approaches you can check at www.scamwatch.gov.au where there is up to date information on the latest scams and methods to beware of. You can also report a scam on the site.
Consumer fraud comes in many forms and can target both consumers and businesses....”
[Media release, 9 March 2011]