All phone systems are occasionally subject to attempts by people trying to rob trusting users on the other end of the phone line. Generally these types of calls, or scams, are very rare in proportion to the total number of genuine calls.
Types of scams
Common scams involve:
- the chance to win a fantastic prize, a product or ‘reward’ – but you need to send money or your bank account details first
- fake lotteries or sweepstakes
- promises of guaranteed income or employment where you are tricked into paying an upfront fee
- special offers where you will be sent a particular product but you first have to pay for postage and handling costs.
Those using the phone to scam people or businesses often try and maintain anonymity by using internet phone services where it is much harder to trace where the call has come from. Internet relay is occasionally used this way because like other internet phone services the call is very hard to trace.
The NRS has procedures to try and identify possible scam calls but often we can’t tell if a call is genuine or not. And generally NRS relay officers can’t interfere in a call even if they suspect it isn’t genuine.
Sometimes scammers target phone users randomly, sometimes they target NRS users specifically. Internet relay is particular favourite of phone scammers because calls through the internet are very hard to trace. Also the message through internet relay is delivered by text through a relay officer so the NRS user receiving the call can’t make any assessment of the caller’s voice or tone.
What should I do?
As with any approach from someone you don’t know, you should be wary of sending money or providing any private information such as:
- your address
- your bank details
- any special numbers or words such as passwords, codes, pension or card numbers.
If you have concerns that a call you have received or a request to make a call might not be genuine, contact the NRS Helpdesk and we can investigate if such a call fits a pattern with other possible scam calls.
You can find out more about scams an how to avoid them on the Australian Government’s Scamwatch website.