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Most common scams targeting Aussies: ‘Relentless and sophisticated’

TPG Telecom has blocked 22 million scam texts so far in 2023. These were the most common.

A composite image of people walking through a tunnel and numerous scam text messages.
Aussies have been warned to stay vigilant as scammers get more sophisticated. (Source: AAP / Provided) (AAP / Provided)

It’s no secret Aussies have been bombarded with text-message scams over the past couple of years and, sadly, many are still losing their hard-earned cash as the criminals get even more sophisticated.

TPG Telecom told Yahoo Finance that, so far this year, it had blocked more than 22 million text-message scams.

Scammers are using new technology to trick their victims, by making the call appear to come from legitimate phone numbers or by sending a text that appears in the same conversation thread as genuine messages.

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TPG Telecom blocked almost half a billion SMS scams last year and the ACCC reported a whopping $169 million was stolen from Australians via SMS and phone scams in 2022.

TPG Telecom head of external communication Mitchell Bingemann told Yahoo Finance it was getting harder to determine what was legitimate and what was a scam.

“Scammers are unrelenting and are increasingly using sophisticated methods, like pretending to be legitimate businesses to obtain bank details and personal information,” Bingemann said.

A composite image of numerous scam text messages with red circles showing illegitimate links.
The links in these scam text messages are not legitimate. If you see these links, do not click them. (Source: Provided) (Provided)

“We have upgraded our scam-busting capabilities over the years with a sophisticated SMS firewall to identify and block scammers from reaching our customers. Our controls are working, with security systems blocking more than 22 million SMS scams this year, and almost half a billion in 2022. However, it takes just one successful scammer to cause financial harm.

“There are ways to improve defences against these scammers, and the federal government’s announcement to investigate an SMS whitelist to stop fraudsters spoofing legitimate businesses is a step in the right direction. If this system can be fast-tracked, it will provide a simple solution to significantly reduce SMS scams and better protect customers from potential financial harm."

The most common text scams

The most common scams blocked by TPG this year were spoofing Commonwealth Bank, e-toll companies, Australia Post, PayPal, the ATO and Netflix.

Here are some examples of scams. If you receive a message that looks like this, report the scam to Scamwatch immediately and do not click on any links:

  • COMMBANK: Your access has been locked due to an unusually large payment attempt. Resolve via: [link]

  • Overdue Reminder: Please review your March overdue statement at [link] by 31/03/2023

  • Action Required: Your account has an overdue toll notice. Resolve your matter at [link] to lift your account restriction

  • Your income return was on hold due to lack of information required. Click [link] to finish the process and receive your refund

  • You've initiated a Transaction AUD 1670.00 @PayPal, It will be debited shortly on 2023-03-30, for dispute the transaction, Call [number] our support

  • NETFLIX: Your last order was declined, please confirm your personal information. Go to: [link]

  • AuPost: Your item has been returned to our depot due to a [sic] unsuccessful attempt. To reschedule a delivery, proceed to: [link]

  • You have received a message from the ATO. Visit [link] to view

Top tips to avoid scammers:

  • Be alert: If you’re unsure whether a call is legitimate, hang up and call back using the number of the company on the publicly listed website

  • Stop before you click: Never click on suspicious links or hand over your personal or banking details

  • Always double-check payment details: If you’re unsure, check with your bank or the brand before submitting any payment details

  • Check for spelling mistakes and grammar: Often poor spelling and grammar are a clear giveaway that it is a scam

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