Across Australia last year, Scamwatch recorded 6,458 reports of NBN Co impersonation scams, resulting in losses of over $1.4 million dollars.
According to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Acting Chair Delia Rickard, “scammers are increasingly using trusted brands like ‘NBN’ to trick unsuspecting consumers into parting with their money or personal information.”
So, how can you know if you’ve been a victim of an NBN scam, and what can you do to avoid them?
Can your NBN be hacked?
The most common way to be hacked with NBN is via a remote access scam, whereby a scammer calls and asks you to download a software like AnyDesk or TeamViewer.
Often, this is under false pretences such as fixing or upgrading your NBN, or even to protect you against scammers (ironic, huh?)
Once you download the software, the scammer can access any of the accounts you log onto, such as your emails or even internet banking.
“Remote access scams are one of the largest growing scam types in Australia. Scammers take advantage of the digital world and the fear of fraud and cybercrime to access people’s devices and steal their money,” Ms Rickard said.
“These types of scams target and impact all people and can be convincing.
“People aged 55 and older lost over $4.4 million, accounting for almost half of total losses.
“Young people reported losing on average $20,000 and eight Indigenous Australians, some in remote communities, lost a total of $38,000.”
How to identify a scammer?
There are common things scammers do or say that NBN states its legitimate employees would never do:
They tell you there’s an issue and offer to fix it
The caller might let you know that your NBN connection has been ‘hacked’, that there is a security breach, or it is going to be disconnected.
They might offer technical support, a discount, or ask you to run an internet speed test through websites such as ‘speedtest.net’.
They might also ask you to download a remote-access software, which, as explained above, can enable the caller to hack your computer and personal information as a result.
They ask for personal information
They might ask for a photo of your drivers licence, or answers to common security questions.
They offer to reconnect your NBN in a power outage
On their live blog during the March floods, NBN alerted those impacted by power outages that “some residents have received phone calls from scammers impersonating NBN and asking for funds to expedite the restoration of their service. Please be aware NBN will never contact customers asking for payment or any other financial information”.
The call is automated
If there is a robotic voice on the phone, hang up immediately.
They try to sell you something
They might offer to install a 5G connection or change your technology type, and ask for payment (sometimes via vouchers or gift cards).
NBN Chief Security Officer Darren Kane says “we will never make unsolicited calls or door knock to sell broadband services to the public. People need to contact their preferred phone and internet service provider to make the switch”.
What should you do if you’ve been scammed?
If you’ve given your bank details to someone:
Call your bank immediately, and report the incident to the police, or Scamwatch.
If you’ve given someone access to your computer or device:
If you’ve downloaded any apps at the advice of the scammer, delete them immediately, and remember to always report scams to the ACCC via Scamwatch to protect others from also being scammed.
How do you stop a scammer?
Refuse to give any caller remote access to your computer and mobile phone, never share your financial information, never purchase NBN equipment from unofficial providers, and hang up the phone if an automated voice is giving an NBN disconnection notice.
To confirm if a caller is a scammer, ask for their details, then hang up and call your phone and internet provider to check if they’re legitimate.
If the caller offers you an alternate phone number to ring to check legitimacy, decline the offer and call the official number of your provider.
To see if an in-person technician is a scammer, check their NBN enAble ID card before letting them into your home.
Ms Rickard says that “if you receive contact from someone claiming to be from a telecommunications company, a technical support service provider or online marketplace, hang up.”