Are you the type of person to completely ignore any number calling you that you don’t recognise or withheld numbers? We don’t blame you. With scam calls on the rise, how can we spot one from afar? Here are some tips to help you spot a scam.
The problem with a scam call, is that they often claim to be from well-known organisations, such as the Government, Telstra and so on. Scam calls target everyone, and they’re getting harder and harder to recognise. Because of advances in technology, scammers can now show Australian phone numbers in the caller ID or call log, so it looks like the call is coming from a reputable source. Here are some ways you can spot a scam call.
8 ways to spot a scam call
1. It sounds too good to be true
Sure, we all love hearing that we’ve won $100,000 in a competition, or can access this amazing deal, and all we have to do is hand over our bank details! But, that should be enough of a hint that something isn’t right. Did you even enter a competition? Always be wary of handing over details until you have done your research. Find out what the competition was. Contact the company about this ‘special deal’ they have told you about.
2. You’re threatened
Some scammers threaten you with arrest, which is something a reputable agency would never do. If you’re ever told you need to make a payment or a warrant will be put out for your arrest, hang up and report it.
3. They ask to access your computer
Even if they claim to be coming from a well-known company, as soon as remote access if requested… hang up. This is one sure sign of a scam. They offer to fix a problem or provide an upgrade, but instead pop a virus on which gives them all your personal details.
4. They call over and over
They do this to make it hard for you to ignore them. Getting a call from the same number over and over is enough to convince some people to answer the phone, thinking it’s urgent. As a general rule, if they don’t leave a message, then ignore it. If a friend, family member, or legitimate business wants to get in contact with you, they will leave a message with details to call them back. Scammers use technology to make their phone number appear to be local, but it’s really not, so they can’t leave these details.
5. Use robocalls
These pre-recorded messages sound official, telling you that unless you make payment, something will happen, ie your internet will be cut off, a warrant will be put out for your arrest and so on.
6. They want immediate payment
If the person on the line is asking for immediate payment out of the blue and ask you to stay on the line until payment is made.
7. They won’t let you speak to a supervisor
Scammers will refuse to let you to speak to their manager or supervisor. They generally work alone and have no-one to pass you off too, even just to continue the scam.
8. Request payment by non-traditional means
Scammers often request payment by Myer, Woolworths or other retail gift cards. This is because the gift cards are untraceable, enabling them to get away with the scam. They might even use Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, once again because they are hard to trace.
How to protect yourself from a potential scam
First things first, scams do exist and it’s important to be aware of this. When you answer a call from an unknown number, always be on alert that there could be something dodgy going on. While we don’t always want to think the worst of people, it helps to be prepared just in case.
Register your number
The Do Not Call Register is a secure database where you can register your number free of charge to help limit unsolicited telemarketing calls.
Do your research
If in doubt, look them up. Don’t agree to anything on that initial phone call and tell them you’ll get back to them shortly. Google is a great way to verify a phone number. If it is from the company they are claiming to be, then you’ll be able to find out fairly easily. At the same time, if it is a scam, you will find others may have already reported the number as a warning.
If in doubt, end the call
If you’re just feeling uneasy about the call and aren’t sure whether or not they’re telling the truth, then hang up. You can end the call politely and tell them you will be in contact later. If it’s a scam they will likely start pushing you and the threats will come out, so you will get your answer. If not, once you’ve had time to do your research, you can call back.
How to report a scam
The ATO has some great advice when it comes to reporting a scam.
If you received a scam phone call and you did pay or provide sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, phone them on 1800 008 540 to report it.
You should also:
- make an official report to your local police
- contact your bank or financial institution if you provided your credit card or bank details to the scammer
- contact the bank you made the payment to and lodge a fraud report.
If you received a scam phone call and did not pay or provide sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, should still report the scam. You can use their online Report a scam form.