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Scammers who pretend they are calling from technical support

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman receives many complaints each year from consumers who were targeted by scammers. Technical support scams are not new, but you should remain vigilant as scammers constantly evolve their tactics.

Scammers may try to scare you about a computer or internet problem

Typically, the scam begins with a scammer pretending they’re calling from the technical support team of a large telco or computer company.

The scammer will try to scare you about a computer or internet problem, so they can convince you to give your personal or banking details and access to your computer. For this reason, these scams are also referred to as ‘remote access’ scams.

Remote access scams are the fifth most common scam reported to Scamwatch, with consumers losing $2.8 million in 2019 so far.

You can be scammed when you have a real computer or internet problem

Over the last year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has seen a concerning new trend of complaints about this scam.

Some consumers told us they had initially called their telco provider’s technical support line about a real problem with their service. Shortly after, these consumers were contacted by a scammer who the consumers believed worked for their telco provider.

Consumers report having their computers accessed remotely by the scammer and being told their services had been hacked. In some instances, the scammer asked for the consumers’ banking details to buy software and fix the hack.

These consumers were particularly receptive to the scammer, because they had just been speaking with their telco provider about a real technical issue.

Tips to protect you from scammers

Always be vigilant, because scammers can sometimes catch you when you’re most receptive to their tricks.

Here are some tips to protect you from scammers:

  • Never give a stranger access to your computer or your banking details over the phone – even if they claim to be from a known organisation.
  • If in doubt about who you’re speaking to, hang up.
  • To discuss a real computer or internet problem, you can always call your telco provider back using its publicly available telephone number.
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date software protecting it from viruses and spyware, as well as a good firewall.

For more information and tips, visit the Scamwatch website and Telstra’s advice “Is it really Telstra contacting you?”

If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or helpless. Stay Smart Online suggests these steps to get help.