Just hang up: Crime Stoppers launch campaign to minimise phone scam risk

Just hang up: Crime Stoppers launch campaign to minimise phone scam risk

If there is a distinct delay when you pick up the phone and the person does not announce who they are before starting the conversation: just hang up. Likewise, if someone asks for your personal information: just hang up.

That's the message from Crime Stoppers as they launch a new campaign to help the community minimise the risk of falling victim to phone scams.

According to a recent consumer survey undertaken by Crime Stoppers, almost 90 per cent of Australians receive at least one nuisance or unwanted call every week and a further 10 per cent receive more than ten nuisance or unwanted calls each week.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch reports phone calls continue to be the most common way scammers reach consumers with financial losses of $66.8 million reported to Scamwatch between January 1 to October 3 2021 from 120,279 reports. This represents a 104 per cent increase in losses and an 87 per cent increase in reports.

Crime Stoppers chief executive Peter Price said reputable organisations like financial institutions and the ATO will never ask you for passwords or for access to your computer.

"A legitimate institution will not ask probing or personal questions on an unsolicited call. The questions may seem harmless, but they build a picture of you, where your finances are, your financial situation and other personal details that allow them to impersonate you and extract money," he said.

"Hanging up may be the difference between being scammed or not."

Scammers are finding new ways to trick people into taking their calls. These include:

  • Caller ID spoofing is one such tactic which allows the scammer to disguise their identity. If the scammer is calling from outside Australia, they can actually display an Australian phone number, including a mobile number, which increases the likelihood of you answering their call.
  • Some people are even receiving calls from "their own" phone number, while other people's valid phone numbers are being reported as a phone scam because it has been used by criminals. If your phone number has been stolen and used in a phone scam, contact your telco provider immediately.

Mr Price said there is no one single solution to avoiding scams and blocking individual phone numbers is one solution but it only stops calls from that specific number.

Crime Stoppers' advice for consumers is to hang up, then check if the call is legitimate by calling the organisation they claim to be from using contact details you've sourced independently, like a Google search. Never use the contact details associated with the call.

They are urging people to never give out any personal information and if you are concerned you may have been scammed, let your bank know if you've given away any banking details and report the scam to Scamwatch. They also encourage people to share your knowledge with family and friends if you are aware of a scam.

As part of the independent survey commissioned by Crime Stoppers, it found that of those who receive unwanted or nuisance calls, more than 68 per cent have been asked for credit card or payment details or asked for access to their computer.

More than half the people surveyed engaged with the nuisance call before eventually hanging up and in five per cent of the cases, people have given out their personal information, credit card or payment details or access to their computer.

This story Just hang up: Crime Stoppers launch campaign to minimise phone scam risk first appeared on Fairfield City Champion.