Alert: Scammers Are Now Impersonating NBN Staff

Scammers are impersonating NBN staff, demanding payments in iTunes cards and other gift cards, for services that will never be connected. It's not a new scam but with the NBN in the news, criminals are using the infrastructure company as a cover to go after vulnerable people. Here are some simple tips you can pass on to family and friends that may be vulnerable.

The typical scam these criminals pay is to knock on the door of a place like a retirement village where there's a higher density of potential victims. The knock on the door, show a fake ID and then tell the resident that they need to make a payment, usually in cash or some other untraceable form like a gift card, in order for a new service to be connected.

In other cases, it all done over the phone. In my own neighbourhood recently, an elderly person was trying to activate several $50 iTunes cards at the local supermarket. Another local saw that the lady was in difficulty and offered to help. The scammer was on the victim's phone giving instructions on how to buy iTunes cards. The helpful local was onto the scam in a flash and provided the scammer with some biologically impossible advice on what they could do rather than rip people off.

The first thing to note is that NBN Co doesn't have a retail arm and don't sell services, except in some very limited situations, directly to customers. As ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in a statement last year:

NBN will never phone you out of the blue to try to sign you up to a service over its network. NBN is a wholesaler meaning they don’t sell direct to the public. If you get an unsolicited call like this, it’s a big red flag that you’re dealing with a scammer.

Secondly, never let a stranger into your home, even if they look like they have legitimate ID. Some scammers will use the premise of being with NBN Co or some other service provider in order to determine whether you're a good target for a later burglary.

In one case affecting a friend recently, their elderly parents, who we should remember grew up and lived in an era where this kind of criminal activity was practically unheard of, let a "Telstra technician" into their house to "fix the internet". That repair job resulted in surveillance software being installed to their computer.

Finally, there's the "Windows Support" scam where someone phones you saying Microsoft has detected a problem with your computer and they need to remotely access your computer in order to fix the problem. While "fixing" things, they access your personal files and install spyware.

Scammers will use a combination of different techniques to infiltrate homes. Typically, that starts with finding the most likely victims - often older people - and then using fake ID or offical sounding titles like "Windows Support" to gain access to your home or computer.

NBN Co nor any other real business asks for payments using gift cards.

“Finally, if someone ever asks you to pay for a service using iTunes gift cards, it is 100 per cent a scam. Legitimate businesses, especially those like NBN, will never ask you to pay for anything in this way," said the ACCC's Rickard.

Most Lifehacker readers would be across these scams but it's a good idea to sit down and explain these kinds of scams to people you know who may be less understanding about the lengths today's criminals go to. If the person you're helping is a little forgetful, a simple note by the phone or door saying "People asking for gift cards are crooks" can be a any easy way to help.


Comments

    These people are scum.

      But they're trying to fix your problems, so they must be nice scum. Right?

    Should have posters or something at retirement homes to warn people about this or ads on tv, radio. They target the vulnerable so educating them may help get rid of these waste of oxygen.

      My local woollies had warnings about the TAX scams going around, they should really do more.

        Tax office posts warnings on all their social media accounts every other day at this time of year, theres not much more they can do. Those and stories in main stream media are about as much as a department can really do.

        Its disturbing that people expect more though. They want everyone else to adult for them, and take no responsibility for their own actions. How many times do people need to be warned? Ignorance isn't an excuse, this has been going on for far too long to not be aware of it.

        Don't get me wrong, I feel for people that get scammed, but you can only do so much before the responsibility falls on them for screwing up. After that, they're just trying to pass the buck for their own poor decision making.

          That is true, been going on for a long time so you would think people would have caught on and need to think for themselves of this sounds like a scam. Many have caught on but these scammers are still in operation because people are still falling for it. The other big worry is creating new scams that are harder to detect. It's frustrating seeing these low lives scam people but also frustrating when you see a person fall for it. For instance, the Nigerian princes giving you $20 million, just send them $100,000 to collect.

            The basics in avoiding them haven't changed though. It doesn't matter that the method changes, theres always a warning sign. Did you buy a ticket in the Irish lottery? Why would a Nigerian prince or someone from the IRS trust you with $20,000,000? Why didn't you know that mystery relative leaving you millions? How come that Government debt can only be paid with Apple credit?

            The tech support ones, I can partially understand. Technology is confusing, but surely theres privacy alarms going off if someone randomly calls you to 'fix your problem'. How did they know YOUR computer was having problems? Its not hard to ask why they were spying on you.

            It only takes a tiny amount of common sense to smell a fish, and that alone should be enough to hesitate. Which is usually enough for them to hang up and try the next number on their list.

            I work in the ATO, and when we're contacting someone we need to ask for proof of ID, even though its us calling. And it screams scam, something I've raised for years. The info we're asking (date of birth, bank details, etc) are exactly what a scammer is after.

            But we're used to being questioned on it now, so don't be afraid to ask for proof. Normally its as simple as giving the switchboard number (publicly available) and my extension.

            Getting off track. End of the day, theres not much common sense needed to avoid these problems. But people don't want to think for themselves, and expect to be nannied through life instead. Then whinge when we turn into a nanny state....

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