Western Australians urged to ‘wise up’ as tech scammers rip off $400,000

11-07-2018 by admin

Scammers are nameless, faceless thieves. Photo: 123rf老域名Scammers pretending to represent Telstra, Optus and Microsoft have ripped off Western Australians to the tune of $400,000 since the beginning of the year.

That’s a 500 per cent increase on 2015, suggesting people on the west coast are regarded as easy pickings for the so-called “tech support scammers”.

Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet has received complains from 36 victims who had lost a total of $397,151 up until the end of April, a big boost on last year when 25 victims reported losing a total of $78,386 during the same time period.

By the end of 2015, 70 victims were scammed out of a total of $188,478.

Consumer Protection acting commissioner David Hillyard urged Western Australians to “wise up”.

He said the most common scam involved victims getting phone calls from criminals saying they were tech support officers from Telstra, Optus or Microsoft.

“They ask for access to the victim’s computer in order to fix a problem,” he said.

“After being given access remotely, the scammers then get the victims to log on to their bank accounts and the money is later stolen.”

Mr Hillyard said it was alarming that losses to this scam had already increased five-fold compared to the same time last year.

“Giving remote access to your computer to someone who has rung you out of the blue can be a very expensive mistake,” he said.

“Victims this year have each lost about $11,000 on average.”

The acting commissioner urged people to not be fooled by these random calls.

“Unless you have contacted that organisation for tech support, hang up immediately and don’t take the bait,” he said.

“Never allow anyone to have remote access to your computer, unless you have initiated the contact and are sure the person on the phone is genuine.”

“Your personal information is the key to unlock your financial accounts – guard it carefully and ensure you don’t become one of the many victims of this tech support scam,” Mr Hillyard said.

This warning comes at the start of National Consumer Fraud Week with a community awareness campaign urging people to  “wise up to scams”.

Top tips to avoid becoming a victim include: Don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions. Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency so the recipient of the call will act impulsively. They do this through short deadlines, fake emergencies or threats of legal action.Get a second opinion. If someone is requesting money and you have doubts, discuss it with a trusted and reliable third party.Get your own investment advice. Do not respond to emails and phone calls from strangers offering predictions on shares, investment tips, or investment advice.Always do your own research before you invest any money and check the company or scheme is licensed on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.Be wary of online dating. Know who you’re dealing with. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met in person. If someone approaches you on social media and you don’t know them, it may be a scam.Tech companies won’t call you. If you receive a call claiming to be from Microsoft, Telstra or anyone else telling you your computer has a problem, it is likely to be a scam.Never allow anyone to remotely log into your computer.Government agencies will generally write to you about any money issues. If somebody calls you claiming to be from the government offering you unexpected money or demanding you pay an outstanding debt, be cautious.Seek information on the organisation and the caller and confirm their legitimacy.

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