NBN scams on the rise in 2019

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If you’ve received a suspicious and unsolicited call about your broadband plan, you may have been targeted by an NBN scammer. You’re not alone: suspected computer and telco plan-specific scams are on the rise, prompting NBN Co to launch a campaign to empower Australians to recognise and prevent scammers.

Operating as part of the ACCC’s National Scam Awareness Week, NBN Co’s local community engagement teams will host nation-wide scam-spotting information sessions, designed to set the record straight on what is and isn’t legitimate when it comes to your NBN service. With NBN Co now fielding around 100 calls per day regarding suspected scams (that’s around 9,500 over the past quarter), it’s clear that would-be broadband swindlers are stepping up their efforts to fleece unsuspecting Aussies before the NBN rollout is complete.

As of mid-2019, more than ten million Australian homes and businesses have access to the NBN. Unfortunately, increased NBN connections mean an uptick in fraudulent activity: the ACCC has confirmed that mid-year losses due to broadband scams have already hit $500,000, a rise of 300% since 2018. Seniors are particularly at risk, with Australians over 65 losing a combined $330,000 in the first half of 2019.

NBN scams: what you need to know

If you’re worried about being a target for NBN scams, it’s important to remember that no-one from NBN Co will ever call you about your broadband or NBN plan. As NBN Co is a wholesaler, they never deal with or sell to individuals directly, except in very limited circumstances. Generally, the only company you’ll need to talk to with regarding your connection or plan is your internet service provider (for example, telcos such as Telstra, TPG, or iiNet).

Most scams involve calls directly to a home or business, with scammers frequently claiming to be calling on behalf of the NBN. The caller may offer to sell you a plan, or request remote access to your computer in order to ‘fix’ an alleged connection issue. They may also claim you’ve failed to pay a bill, and that you’ll need to provide them with financial details in order to prevent your service being disconnected.

Occasionally, scammers may come door-to-door, offering an in-person deal for a too-good-to-be-true NBN plan. Again, NBN Co doesn’t sell directly to customers, and even reputable service providers don’t need to door-knock to sell plans. No matter the medium a scammer chooses, never give out your personal or financial details to strangers – and if in doubt, call your current service provider directly to verify any offers.

Quick tips for avoiding NBN and broadband scams:

  • You can’t buy NBN plans from NBN Co, nor will the company ever contact you regarding your plan.
  • If you do request an NBN technician at your residence for any reasons, look for their enAble™ identification card before allowing them access to your home.
  • Never give out financial or personal details to unsolicited callers or door-knockers, and never by email.
  • Never give unsolicited or unverified callers remote access to your computer.
  • If you receive a call or email from your internet service provider that you’re not sure about, it’s best to call them back directly to confirm. Use the phone number provided by their website, or found on your bill.
  • If you do receive a suspicious email, don’t click any links or attachments, and avoid opening the message altogether.

Most of these scams are attempts to steal your personal details (known as ‘phishing’), or to entice you to make a payment for a fraudulent service. Remote access scams – in which callers may ask to access your computer by installing software – are also common, and are designed to steal personal information, or install spyware or malware on your device.

What to do if you’ve been scammed

If you think you’ve been targeted by an NBN or computer scammer, you should act immediately.

  • Contact your bank/financial institution straight away and inform them of the scam. Keep an eye on your bank account or credit card, and report any suspicious transactions immediately.
  • Call your local police and file a report.
  • Contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273 if you believe personal or financial details have been accessed. You should also call ID CARE if a scammer has obtained access to your computer.
  • Report the scam to the ACCC’s ScamWatch, and to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

While the ACCC insists that no-one is ‘too smart to be scammed’, a little knowledge and vigilance can go a long way. Scams are common, especially among vulnerable members of the community; stay informed, keep your details safe, and don’t be afraid to hang up on a cold caller.

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