Life on the land in Australia


In the past week or two a criminal outfit has been telephonically touring Australia frightening people by posing as Telstra support staff.In the past week or two a criminal outfit has been telephonically touring Australia frightening people by posing as Telstra support staff.

Old scams never die, they just come back to haunt, hoodwink and, if you are careless or unwary, seize your identity and your money.

In the past week or two a criminal outfit, probably based in India, has been telephonically touring Australia frightening people by posing as Telstra support staff. I had them on my phone last week, as did several friends and associates. The scam went like this, starting with an Indian-accented female voice:

”This is Julia at Telstra support. We have called to tell you that we are terminating your internet connection for six months.”

”Why?” I ask.

”Because your computer has been infected by a virus that is transmitting error messages into the Telstra system.”

Some argy-bargy ensued about errors and stuff streaming out of domestic computers, until I asked which of my computers was supposed to be infected.

”It is the one you are using.”

”Which one is that?”

”One moment. I will check with my supervisor.”

So then a bloke with a stronger Indian accent came on the line, with a pitch about how my ”infected” computer was endangering Telstra’s entire internet system by transmitting streams of error messages into it.

”Rubbish,” I say.

”No, sir, it is not rubbish. It is a serious problem for our system.”

I asked for a name and a phone number. He said his name was Kevin Johnson (unusual for an Indian) and that his number was 02 8006 7927. I hung up and called it. The same bloke answered with ”Telstra support” and without asking who I was, continued to press me about the ”errors” in my computer.

I was asked to download TeamViewer, an application that allows remote control of a computer. Not a good idea.

And then the crunch bit. ”Then, sir, you must pay $10 for the services of a Cisco-certified engineer to clean your computer.” (Cisco prices must have been slashed.)

People who’ve been asked for small amounts of money often agree to give credit card details, thinking they are not risking much. But once in possession of the number, scammers will hit their victim for thousands.

”So how do I pay?” I ask the scammer.

”Do you bank with NAB?” No.

”Which is your bank?” My business.

”Do you have a credit card?” Yes.

”Please give me the number to pay the $10.” No.

Whereupon the scammer became very aggressive, suggesting Telstra would sue me if I did not comply and would permanently terminate my internet connection.

I hung up and called Telstra to report the intrusion. The company says such scam calls are increasing and are a concern to the company, but because they come from overseas are difficult to stop.

Telstrasays: ”If you get such a call, hang up immediately and call Telstra technical support on its official number. Report the call to SCAMwatch, accessible on the ACCC’s website, to Telstra’s Facebook page and Telstra, 24/7.”

If you think the scammers have got into your machine, Telstra will check it online for a one-off fee of $120, and they don’t want your credit card number; the fee is billed to your Telstra account. It’s also possible to have a regular watch put on your machine.

Malware invasions – viruses, Trojans, keystroke loggers, zombies and such – can generally be handled by good prophylactic software from companies such as Sophos, TrendMicro, Symantec and Kaspersky. Sophos has a free business-grade tool for domestic Mac users that experts give a big thumbs-up. Find it here.

But software can’t handle social engineering scams such as the one I got. Be suspicious of calls from people you don’t know. The idea that Telstra would shut down an internet connection for six months is ridiculous; designed to frighten the unwary.

Finally, because of the exponential growth of mobile computing, it is also vital to protect your iPad, iPhone or other mobile devices. If you bring your own iPad and iPhone to your workplace, we hope the boss has required installation of a control system that protects and isolates the company information you are carrying.

All the major internet security companies now offer not only protective software for desktop machines but also for tablets and mobile phones. Trend Micro offers a free trial of its Safe Surfing app, Sophos has Mobile Control aimed at business users, while Symantec has a free mobile encryption app for iOS. Business users will need to consult their IT support people and home users should check into the security company’s website or contact it for help.

Henry Sapiecha

September 9th, 2014
Topic: SCAMS Tags: , , ,

≡ Leave a Reply