Mid North Coast warning during National Consumer Fraud Week

The recent global ransomware attack provides a timely reminder to protect yourself online.

The warning comes from Mid North Coast Local Area Command crime manager Detective Inspector Kim Fehon.

"We have had  a several elaborate online access scams reported over the past few weeks on the Mid North Coast where victims have been contacted by telephone, both landline and mobiles, where the scammer has purported to be from Telstra, the AFP and the ATO,” Det Insp Fehon said.

A number of different background stories have been utilised and the scammer will then request remote access to their computer. While that remote access is active the scammer will ask the victim to check for a deposit in their bank account. When the account is open, the scammer has then transferred money from one victim account into another, convincing the victim that an error has been made and they need to repay the money.

“They are asked to do this by attending their bank in person, withdrawing the cash and attending another branch to deposit money into an account, the details of which are provided by the scammer,” Det Insp Fehon explained.

“In one case, the victim was on the phone for six hours. The main message is never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer." 

If you have fallen victim to a scam, you should report the matter to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) at www.acorn.gov.au

It is a secure reporting and referral service for cybercrime and online incidents which may be in breach of Australian law. Certain reports will be directed to Australian law enforcement and government agencies for further investigation.

Information on online scams reported to the ACORN will be shared with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s SCAMwatch website records reports of scams.   

You can go to the scamwatch.gov.au website to find more information on scams. You can also sign up for email alerts on current scams. 

Warning signs

  • You receive a phone call out of the blue and the caller claims to be from a large telecommunications or computer company, or a technical support service provider.
  • They tell you that your computer is experiencing technical problems and they need remote access to sort out the problem.
  • They ask you to buy software or sign up to a service to fix the computer.
  • They ask for your personal details and your bank or credit card details.
  • The caller is very persistent and may become abusive.

Protect yourself

Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.

Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested – hang up – even if they mention a well-known company such as Telstra. Telstra does not request credit card details over the phone to fix computer or telephone problems, and is not affiliated with any companies that do.

Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government's Do Not Call Register. Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently.

Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Research first and only purchase software from a source that you know and trust.

If you have fallen victim to a scam or you receive a lot of unsolicited emails and phone calls consider changing your email address and phone numbers.

Have you been scammed? 

If you have given remote access to your computer, or you fear that your computer has been hacked, seek help or advice from a qualified and reputable computer technician. 

If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. 

Report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page.

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