Scammers continue to leave recorded messages on the phones of Australian residents falsely claiming to be from the “technical department” of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra.
The messages claim that your phone or Internet connection is about to be terminated due to a technical issue and urge you to “press 1” to be connected to a technician.
If you do press 1 as instructed, you will be answered by a scammer posing as a Telstra support worker. The scammer will claim that your computer has been distributing viruses or that it has been hacked and needs urgent attention. He or she will warn that your service will be disabled if you don’t accept assistance to fix the supposed issue.
Then, the scammer will claim that you must provide your credit card details to cover a support fee for his or her help. After you have provided your credit card numbers and possibly other sensitive personal information, the scammer will inform you that the problem has been fixed and terminate the call.
But now, the crooks can use your credit card to conduct fraudulent transactions and, if they have gathered enough of your personal information, perhaps steal your identity as well.
In some cases, they may demand that you pay the supposed support fee using store gift cards such as iTunes cards rather than credit cards. They will instruct you to finish the call, buy the gift cards, and then call back with the card numbers. The scammers can then use the cards to purchase goods and services with less chance of being traced by authorities.
In other cases, the scammers may trick you into downloading remote access software that will give them control of your computer. They can steal passwords and other information, potentially access your online banking and social media accounts, and install malware.
The content of the recorded messages may vary. In some cases, the scammer will be live on the phone when you pick up. If you receive one of these calls do not comply with any of the instructions outlined.
Telstra does occasionally contact customers by phone to discuss account issues or new plan or service options. However, genuine Telstra staff will never demand that you pay an immediate fee over the phone to deal with a supposed virus problem or receive tech support. Nor will they ever ask you to download software that gives them access to your computer.
Note also that scammers use the same tactics to target customers of many other phone and Internet service providers around the world.
If you receive one of these calls, just end the call. Don’t engage with the caller.
If you are worried that the call may have been genuine, contact the service provider after you have ended the call. However, do not use any phone numbers that may be included in the recorded message. Instead, find a phone number for the provider via a legitimate source such as a phone directory or bill. If the call was legitimate, then the staff member that you contact should have a record of the problem and be able to assist you.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!