21st Feb 2018

Never accept a call from an unknown number

Never accept a call from an unknown number
Janelle Ward

Your phone rings but you don’t recognise the number. Do you answer it in case it’s Tattslotto calling to say you’ve won? Or ignore the call because you know that 40 per cent of scams in Australia are carried out via phones?

Of course you ignore it. Wise decision.

According to Scamwatch, phone calls are the No. 1 choice for scammers in Australia, followed by email at 26.5 per cent and text messaging at 15 per cent.

The latest scam, called Wangiri fraud, is from an unknown caller using an overseas phone number most likely bought on the ‘dark web’ who disconnects after just one or two rings. The aim of the scam is to get you to call back. Don’t.

If you did, your call would be re-routed to a premium rate number overseas and you would be billed exorbitant sums for the privilege of listening to pre-recorded messages.

ACCC's Scamwatch said it had 277 reports of Wangiri fraud in one week.

If the caller is bona fide, he or she will leave a message. If there’s no message, you can bet it’s a scammer – or a telemarketer, and you can live without both.

Callers seeking personal information and claiming to be from Centrelink, the NBN and the Australian Federal Police regularly do the rounds.

Delia Rickard, Deputy Chairwoman at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says: “Phone calls are so easy, it's very cheap and in countries where labour is cheaper, you've got whole call centres devoted to doing these sort of scam calls and I think that personal touch gives them a greater likelihood of getting more victims.”

Be alert for:

  • Callers from computer software companies wanting to access your computer.
  • Poor quality calls.
  • Calls purportedly from government agencies asking for bills to be paid – particularly in the form of pre-paid gift cards such as iTunes.
  • Callers seeking any financial details.


What should you do? Hang up or don’t answer the call in the first place and report the call to authorities.

Have you been targeted by scammers?

Related articles:
Scammers getting sneakier
The iTunes scam
Refund for scam victims


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21st Feb 2018
Just got scammed by YLC: the heading says "Never accept a call...." but goes on to say don't ring back. The heading is misleading.
21st Feb 2018
I don't pick up the phone nor do I call back a private or unknown number. If they don't leave a message they have nothing important to say.
Its not worth coming down from a ladder for a nuisance call.
21st Feb 2018
With no members of my family overseas I never accept calls my caller ID indicates as 'OVERSEAS". I never call back unless I recognise the number calling, if it is so important they will leave a 101 message or call back themselves. Nevertheless I still get calls from 'Telstra Technical Department' about faults on my computer/internet or calls trying to interest me in solar panels (I already have 20 PV panels on my roof). The Do-Not-Call register say they can do little as most of these calls originate overseas even though the caller ID either shows 'Private' of gives a number which is obviously incorrect.
21st Feb 2018
I never answer a call on my landline now, I check the numbers on the phone and have a lot of numbers I do not recognize. Genuine people that I know leave a message on the answering machine.Spare athought for the elderly and frail who will get scammed.
21st Feb 2018
Lots of scammers purporting to be from Telstra, ATO, solar panels, AFP and my personal favourite, the person who had supposedly had a fall in our driveway and was going to sue! I told them to put their claim in writing. Usually, I just hang up. However, worse we opened a link on the computer which caused all our files to be locked and could only be released with payment of $500 in bitcoin. It cost us about $200 to have the hard drive wiped and we lost the files, but I always back up on USB stick anyway. You have to be aware sadly.
21st Feb 2018
I must get a dozen calls from unknown numbers ( all my contacts are named) or no number is displayed. I just let them ring out then go in and add the number, if shown, to my blocked caller list. This list must have at least 100 blocked callers in it over the past few months! These calls are invariably shown in my messages as “did not leave a message”, if it was important they would have.
21st Feb 2018
The sales people have already stuffed my phone communication. Its half the time unplugged, half the time on recorded message.
The so called non-commercial listings still let a heap of calls thru, from people cold calling for donations. And I have to worry about scammers too.
Isn't it about time Telstra stopped charging age pensioners extra for a private number.
21st Feb 2018
Also I cant resist the opportunity to have a swipe at telstra and woolworths taking advantage of a cluttered phone system for dealing with complaints, or should I say not dealing with them.

They will either say they cant reply by email, because it is a security risk.
They will have a person phone you who has been given no previous information about the complaint, so you have to put everything verbally, after taking great pains to explain things in written form.
They will have a person phone you, who speaks bad english.
The Bernster
21st Feb 2018
Good news Charlie, got a letter from Telstra the other day stating they are dropping the monthly silent number charge, $2.93 per month, starting in March, lets hope its dropped for everyone.
21st Feb 2018
The Bernster - having a silent number will have no impact on reducing spam callers. Its a computer generated call that's why there is a few seconds silence as the operators comes to the phone as they have just "hooked one".
As soon as you buy anything that requires your phone number its sold and sent to telemarketers. Your $3 a month will do nothing except make sure that people like me who never pick up private number phone calls do not answer your call.
On the Ball
21st Feb 2018
That when you sign up at some of those stalls that frequent shopping malls (security shutters, tile painting, solar panels etc) you may be also approving the removal of your number from the Do Not Call register? Check the fine print!
I followed a link in an ad in an on-line newspaper (a popular one!) as the link was to see the results of a hearing aid review. Great idea! Then it asked for my email address (no issue) my phone number (yeah, ok they might call me) then it wanted me to agree to the terms and conditions... Before ticking the box I read the terms an and conditions.
Buried in there was a one-liner: "I agree to have my telephone number removed from the Do Not Call Register"!!
As I understand it, the advertising company will get paid by (whoever) for a list of freshly-removed numbers!
Watch it and Read The Fine Print!
I seem to remember the ad for the review was on THIS very website.
21st Feb 2018
21st Feb 2018
Best advice here I found was from the comments section. Great to hear about personal experiences. I never knew about the one to not call back on a missed call.
21st Feb 2018
Thank you......wondered why I was getting frequent calls which hang up after a couple of rings........figured they were scammers anyway!
On the Ball
21st Feb 2018
Don't forget "Autodiallers".
They are a computer somewhere that calls numbers - usually from a white pages directory.
If you answer, it logs the time and date, so the company that is using it gets a pattern of when you are home so your details get passed on to a calling service.
As you can imagine a computer can call a lot more numbers in a short space of time, than a human.
21st Feb 2018
It's somewhat illogical to say "never answer a call from an unknown number". It could well be from a cousin or friend from years ago. By answering the call you are not endangering or compromising you or your safety. And as you'd keep your mobile and your cordless home hand set within easy reach, it need not be an inconvenience to sort the wheat from the chaff and maybe have a laugh at the call centre expense.
If you do call a number from your message bank back, then you are letting the calling group know that they do have your interest. One method of pulling them up is by reminding them that they haven't asked you if it is convenient to call you and as you didn't request them to call you, you do not wish to continue the call. Works for me.
Remember that one of the checks to see if anyone was in a house was to see if anyone answered their phone before doing a break and enter.
24th Feb 2018
This is right. People need to just ignore calls from number they don't recognize. Most of those calls come from scammers. Google them or check on some sites like http://whycall.me to see if people have reported them as scammers, so that you could just block the number.

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