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National Consumer Fraud Week provides tips on staying safe

The importance of consumers fighting fraud at home is the theme of this year’s National Consumer Fraud Week.

Fraud Week, which runs from 7 to 13 March, is an initiative of the Australian Consumer Fraud Taskforce. For the third year running, the TIO is a partner of the taskforce, which comprises 21 government regulatory agencies and departments with responsibility for consumer protection regarding frauds and scams.

“Scammers don’t discriminate - they’ll target anyone, be it yourself, a loved one, small or big business, community organisation, charity or government,” the taskforce says. “They also use a myriad of ways to slip under your radar. A phone call, SMS, letter, email, fax, blog, online chat or dating service – scammers will use any of these means to target you.”

One focus of fraud week is mobile phone scams. Mobile phone scams typically involve cases where a person ends up paying for free ringtones, receives texts or missed calls from unknown numbers, or is enticed to enter a competition offering great prizes by SMS.

Consumer concern about mobile premium services led to the introduction of the Mobile Premium Services Code in July 2009.

 “The Mobile Premium Services Code helps prevent consumers from being signed up for mobile premium services that they do not want, and there are now more effective remedies for consumers who are charged for premium services that they have not ordered,” said Ombudsman Simon Cohen.

Rules under the Mobile Premium Services Code include:

  • all mobile service providers must offer mobile premium service barring to their customers
  • content providers must send a confirmation text to the consumer’s mobile phone after they request a subscription service
  • for every $30 that a consumer spends on mobile premium content, the provider must text the consumer telling them how much they have spent to date
  • consumers may cancel a mobile premium service subscription at any time by texting STOP to the content provider
  • content providers must be easily contactable and have procedures for handling consumer complaints that are fair and robust.

Consumers who cannot resolve their complaint with a service provider may contact the TIO on 1800 062 058.

The Australian Consumer Fraud Taskforce recommends the following tips for consumers:

Protect your identity
Your personal details are private and invaluable – keep them that way and away from scammers.

Don’t respond
Ignore suspicious emails, letters, phone calls or text messages – press “delete”, throw them out or just hang up.

Don’t let scammers push your buttons
Scammers will play on your emotions to get what they want.

Resist the personal touch
Watch out for scammers posing as someone that you know and trust, or pretending to know you.