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.
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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.
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