Beware Of Scam Callers Changing Your Phone Provider

Beware Of Scam Callers Changing Your Phone Provider

We’ve often advised hanging up on any business that calls you unprompted, and here’s another good reason to do so. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has warned of a rise in scams where companies pretend they are representing a consumer’s existing phone or internet provider but then conning the customer into switching to a different service.

Picture by Asurroca

The latest TIO newsletter highlights the issue:

Often a telemarketing call has two parts: a “pre-sale” conversation where the product is broadly explained, and then a “verbal authorisation”, in which the consumer is taken through the terms and conditions and agrees to the transfer. The TIO has observed that where a consumer is misled during the “pre-sale” part of the transaction, they may remain misled in the verbal authorisation stage, where they agree to the transfer. As a result, they aren’t giving informed consent to transfer their services to the new provider.

At Lifehacker, we’re firm believers in hunting down good deals, but the way to do that is through your own research, not because someone is being persuasive or pushy over the phone.



  • This happened to us a while back; a year ago or something. They called offering a phone deal, but were clear however that they were a different company to our current provider. They explained some of the deals, and dad agreed to be sent an information pack to explain all that was on offer. Somehow though this was construed as permission from us to have our provider changed, and we only knew we had been when we received the first bill from this new provider. Through a lot of yelling at people and not accepting no for an answer we eventually got back on our old Telstra deal, but it was a royal pain in the ass.

    **ALSO NOTE THAT** I’ve had some guy try this with an internet plan instead. His sly wording was something like “We’ve noticed you’ve been a loyal customer to Telstra for a long time, so we’d like to offer you Plan X”. We were actually planning to change internet providers/plans at the time, so I spent a while listening to him thinking he was from Telstra offering us a discount on one of their bundles.

    It was only when I noticed a few discrepancies between his offer and the real Telstra plans and pushed him on why these were different that he actually came clean and he was from some obscure reseller I’d never heard of.

    In short, be very alert about what you say to telemarketers, out there be bastards.

  • Also be careful of what information you give to ‘survey’ people. You may think it is not confidential information, such as who you bank with and stuff you might have bought recently, but scammers can use that information to call you back with and sound bonafide because they know all this stuff about you. Obviously people are already aware to not give out personal details like date of birth, account numbers etc.. but it’s these inocuous details that they get from you during a ‘satisfaction survey’ that they will then use to profile you and call back later to run the scam on you.

  • We get these calls all the time at work. I just hung up from one, in fact. I know to ask if they are calling from Telstra, not a Telstra reseller, and nine times out of ten they hang up at that point.

  • I’m happy to waste their time.
    I know they’ve gotta make a buck but the harder I make it for them, the less desirable a job it’ll be and the less cost-effective it is to run a business like that.

  • Yes indeed be careful with surveys etc. I have had plenty of calls saying from a telco & saying they are my telco which they are not. Presumably if they get you to record yes to a new plan then you are switched and most people would not fight it..
    we also had some company who gave me a url for had a interntaional distance plan on a web site and said all I had to do was ring a number each call. BUT then they wanted me to record my agreement – when I heard the recording it was clear a switch if I said Yes so I hung up. They rang back …

    The big problem is knowing when it is your telco with a wonderful offer and they want all your privacy details – then it is decision time…..

  • I have a firm belief that anything being sold on TV, radio or over the phone won’t be the best deal going. Coupled with the belief “if a deal is too good to be true, it ain’t” it’s not that hard to put scammers to the test. Common sense, no?

  • someone once tried to sell me income protection insurance over the phone. zi probably wouldn’t have gone for it anyway, but the deal breaker was when they refused to send out any written information

  • Be aware that if they do pinch your PSTN service, you’ll likely lose your DSL connection as well due to the wholesaler changes. It’s not your ISP’s fault, but they may be able to get you back up and running, but time frames are usually in the order of up to 5 business days or so, maybe longer depending on the circumstances – and it may not be free to restore your service either, but you can typically seek compensation from the company that gypped you (probably via the TIO). Play it safe!

  • Interesting. I recently received a letter from Optus about changing deals that were available to me … I’m not an Optus customer, but the letter clearly stated my home phone was a “current Optus service”. Dodgy.

Log in to comment on this story!