Australian consumers lost an average of $110,000 a month to NBN scams in the first five months of 2019, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC said that that figure represents an almost 300 per cent increase on last year, when scammers made away with an average of $38,000 a month.
The ACCC’s acting chair, Delia Rickard, said the majority of victims — more than 60 per cent — were aged over 65 “Scammers are increasingly using trusted brands like ‘NBN’ to trick unsuspecting consumers into parting with their money or personal information,” Rickard said.
The ACCC said that commonly encountered techniques include an NBN-themed version of the venerable remote access scam where person seeks remote access to a PC in order to fix a problem while claiming to work for NBN Co or a telco.
Another is scammers pretending to sell discount NBN services or equipment over the phone.
Two other common scams involve obtaining people’s personal information by visiting them at their homes and pretending to sign them up for NBN services, or calling during a blackout and selling the ability to stay connected.
“It’s concerning scammers continue to use the NBN Co brand as a way to exploit Australians, often the elderly and the vulnerable, for their own criminal purposes,” said NBN Co’s chief security officer, Darren Kane
“We take the impact of scammers on the community very seriously, which is why we use all channels at our disposal, including community engagements and the media, to warn residents about this disturbing trend and encourage them to report it to security authorities, such as SCAMwatch or ACORN [the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network]”
NBN Co released its six top tips for avoiding scams:
• Visit NBN Co’s website at www.nbn.com.au/scamadvice for information on how to identify and avoid potential scammers or for advice if you suspect you have been scammed.
• Remember NBN Co is a wholesaler, which means it does not sell phone or internet services directly to the public. People need to contact their preferred phone and internet provider in order to make the switch.
• Do not share your financial information ((i.e. bank, credit card or gift card details) or personal details with an unsolicited caller or door knockers trying to seek payment for an NBN service.
• Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer or devices via the installation of programs, such as Team Viewer.
• NBN Co does not make automated calls, such as robocalls, to advise of disconnections to NBN or existing copper phone line services. Do not engage with these calls.
• If in doubt, hang up and call your retail service provider on their official customer service centre number to check if the call is legitimate. Do not use contact details supplied by the caller.