Scammers are impersonating nbn reps in Australia to sell fake services

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ITEM: Someone is scamming Australians by pretending to be from nbn co selling broadband packages or offering to change their router or fix their computer.

The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch department issued a warning Tuesday that scammers are taking advantage of the national broadband network’s growing coverage to steal personal and financial details from people – particularly those over 65 years of age.

Scamwatch says there are several nbn-related scams in play, to include signing victims up to fake accounts. Scammers will ring victims pretending to be an nbn rep offering a cheap broadband connection package, and demanding that payment be made through iTunes gift cards.

Another commonly reported scam involves calling people up claiming that nbn co has discovered a problem with their computer in order to gain access to the computer and either stealing personal information, installing malicious software or demanding payment to fix ‘problems’.

Yet another scam involves calling up the victim to tell them they’re entitled to a new router or something but must provide personal info (name, address, Medicare number, licence number, etc) to verify their identity.

Scamwatch says it has received 316 complaints this year about scammers impersonating nbn co, who have made off with nearly A$28,000 ($22,109).

The first scam is particularly interesting because it takes advantage of the apparent fact that not everyone understands that nbn co is a monopoly broadband wholesaler and not the service provider that sells broadband services to consumers.

“NBN will never phone you out of the blue to try to sign you up to a service over its network,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard in a statement. “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.”

Being asked to pay with an iTunes gift card is an even bigger red flag, she added.

“NBN will also never call you to remotely ‘fix’ a problem with your computer, or to request personal information like your Medicare number or your bank account numbers. Don’t listen to the reasons they give you for needing this information,” she said.

Nbn co announced earlier this month that the number of premises ready for service almost doubled from 2.9 million in June 2016 to 5.7 million in June 2017, which works out to one in two Australian premises able to connect to the nbn network. The more homes that connect to the network, the more potential marks for scammers to try and con.

Nbn chief security officer Darren Kane issued a separate statement emphasizing that nbn co does not sell broadband packages directly to consumers, and never, ever makes unsolicited calls or door knocks to sell broadband services.

“There are times when nbn may contact you directly as part of the network roll-out but this will never be to sell you a service,” he said.

Both the ACCC and nbn co advise consumers and businesses to check nbn’s website to see if their premises are able to connect to the nbn network and which retail service providers offer services in their area.

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John C. Tanner
About John C. Tanner 199 Articles
John Tanner has been covering the Asia-Pacific telecoms industry since 1996. He has two degrees in telecommunications, and worked for six years in the US radio industry in various technical and advisory capacities, covering radio and satellite equipment maintenance, studio networking, news writing and production, the latter of which earned him several regional and national awards.

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