NSW Crime Stoppers has launched a new campaign to help the community minimise the risk of falling victim to phone scams.
Almost 90 per cent of Australians have received at least one nuisance or unwanted call every week and a further 10 per cent of Australians have received more than ten nuisance or unwanted calls each week, according to a recent consumer survey undertaken by Crime Stoppers (NSW).
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch, reports phone calls continue to be the most common way scammers reach consumers with financial losses of $66.8 million reported to Scamwatch between January 1 to October 3, 2021 from 120,279 reports.
This represents a 104 per cent increase in losses and an 87 per cent increase in reports.
Scammers are finding new ways to trick people into taking their calls.
For example, Caller ID spoofing is one such tactic which allows the scammer to disguise their identity. If the scammer is calling from outside Australia, they can actually display an Australian phone number, including a mobile number, which increases the likelihood of you answering their call.
The impact on people's productivity is enormous. It's a nuisance and extremely disruptive.
Some people are even receiving calls from "their own" phone number, while other people's valid phone numbers are being reported as a phone scam because it has been used by criminals.
If your phone number has been stolen and used in a phone scam, contact your telco provider immediately.
There is no one single solution to avoid scams and blocking individual phone numbers is one solution but it only stops calls from that specific number.
NSW Crime Stoppers CEO, Mr Peter Price AM said, a legitimate institution would not ask probing or personal questions on an unsolicited call.
"The questions may seem harmless, but they build a picture of you, where your finances are, your financial situation and other personal details that allow them to impersonate you and extract money," he said.
"Hanging up may be the difference between being scammed or not.
"Our message to the community is simple: Just Hang Up."
Reputable organisations like financial institutions and the ATO will never ask you for passwords or for access to your computer, just hang up.
What to do:
If there is a distinct delay when you pick up the phone and the person does not announce who they are before starting the conversation, just hang up.
If someone asks for your personal information, just hang up.
The survey found of those who receive unwanted or nuisance calls, more than 68 per cent have been asked for credit card or payment details or asked for access to their computer.
More than half the people surveyed engaged with the nuisance call before eventually hanging up and in 5 per cent of the cases, people have given out their personal information, credit card or payment details or access to their computer.
The best advice is just hang up, then check if the call is legitimate by calling the organisation they claim to be from using contact details you've sourced independently, like a Google search. Never use the contact details associated with the call.
Never give out any personal information and if you are concerned you may have been scammed, let your bank know if you've given away any banking details and report the scam to Scamwatch. The not for profit, ID Care, can help you if you have given away personal information.
Importantly, share your knowledge with family and friends if you are aware of a scam. Awareness can help others avoid becoming a victim to scams.
The number of people being scammed, and the amount of financial loss is continuing to rise.
NSW Crime Stoppers wants to help the community reduce these numbers and protect people's hard-earned money from criminals.
A fact sheet with advice on how to spot and deal with a phone scam is available at www.nsw.crimestoppers.com.au
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