According to the consumer and competition watchdog, already in 2019, average losses to NBN scams have surpassed $110,000 for every month between January and May.
That is almost three times higher than the average monthly losses to the same type of scams last year, at around $38,500.
“Scammers are increasingly using trusted brands like ‘NBN’ to trick unsuspecting consumers into parting with their money or personal information,” warned Delia Rickard, the ACCC’s acting chair.
“People aged over 65 are particularly vulnerable, making the most reports and losing more than $330,000 this year. That’s more than 60 per cent of the current losses.”
The ACCC noted in a joint statement with NBN Co that there are several versions of the scam impersonating the NBN. These include:
- Calls impersonating someone from NBN Co or an internet service provider (ISP) stating there is a problem with the customer’s service which requires a remote fix. The scammer, once given remote access, then installs malware or steals personal information.
- Phony sales calls and even in-person visits.
- Other calls during a blackout offering consumers the ability to remain connected for a fee.
“We will never make unsolicited calls or door-knock to sell broadband services to the public. People need to contact their preferred phone and internet service provider to make the switch,” said NBN Co’s chief security officer, Darren Kane.
“We will never request remote access to a resident’s computer and we will never make unsolicited requests for payment or financial information.”
The ACCC’s Ms Rickard urged any Australian contacted by someone claiming to work for the NBN not to provide personal information or bank/credit card details, and instead simply hang up and then call their service provider to check whether the contact is legitimate.
“Do a Google search or check the phone book to get your service provider’s number, don’t use contact details provided by the salesperson,” Ms Rickard said.
“Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer, and never give out your personal, credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know — in person or over the phone — unless you made the contact.”
Ms Rickard added that NBN Co does not make automated calls advising of imminent disconnection.
“If you get a call like this, just hang up,” she said.
“If you think a scammer has gained access to your personal information, such as bank account details, contact your financial institution immediately.”
The ACCC released its annual Target Scams report in April, which revealed that total reported losses to scams “exceeded $489 million” in 2018.
Ms Rickard said at the time that this was likely “just the tip of the iceberg” of the true extent of losses to scams, given that many people do not report their loss to the ACCC or any other government agency.