They call among us every day
Every single week I meet clients who have been contacted by scammers masquerading as an online technician, phone company, bank, the Federal Police or the ATO; and every week many are inevitably parted with extraordinary amounts of money by a sophisticated scam that heavily relies on fear tactics and bullying.
Clients often contact me while they are actually on the phone with the scammer to ask if this is a legitimate call.
I always recommend they hang up the phone immediately and if they are on the computer, to power it off immediately and unplug it from the wall ready for me to come and clean it.
Unfortunately, I have seen many lose thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
One was scammed $70,000 by a syndicate that claimed to be Telstra who, over a period of three days, convinced the client to transfer money to a bank account. He was stopped by his local bank teller who queried why he was transferring large monies.
These vulgar con-artists prey upon the elderly and trusting by using intimidation and threats of legal action or worse.
They are trained to bully the innocent into allowing access to their personal details to take their money.
Once the victim has been scammed, they are then bombarded with more phone calls demanding more money from different narratives.
These scams are generally not located within Australia and are generally beyond the law as the technology to call from around the world at a relatively cheap price means they rely on a system that has no global jurisdiction.
Websites such as ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network) or SCAMWATCH can do little more than record the event and look for patterns in the activity to coordinate with local governments from other countries to expedite criminal charges.
By the time this is coordinated, the scammers have long since disbanded.
This is of little consequence to the thousands of victims who, as recently as January and February this year, have already lost more than $1.2million to hacking, phone and online scams.
It is sad that we tend to receive more phone calls from scammers or tele-sales than from friends and family.
My first recommendation is to get yourself a new set of walk-around phones that have an answering machine and caller ID.
Start screening your calls. If you recognise the phone number that appears on the phone screen answer it, but if you don’t, then let it go to the answering machine.
If they leave a message, don’t trust the phone number they leave but check online or in the phone book before calling back.
The receiver can then confirm or deny the validity of the message.
Secondly, there is no institution that should call you for any reason other than returning your enquiry, and if one does, ask for a reference number and you will return their call through the proper customer service number.
Thirdly, don’t ever, not ever, let anyone who calls you have access to your computer remotely. There is no reason for any company to want to access your computer no matter what reason!
Lastly, if you find you are on the phone with a scammer or tele sales person, just hang up! You have no obligation to stay on the phone with them or engage in conversation. If they call again, let the call go to the answering machine. That way they will eventually register your number as a dead phone number and will likely not call again.
If you find you may have been the victim of a phone scam and your computer has been accessed, close down your computer and call a technician to clean up any malware straight away.
If you don’t have a technician, I am on 1300 682 817 or email me email@example.com