Scammers use threats for access to personal details

Illawarra residents have been warned that scam artists are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to gain credit card and bank information over the telephone.

The latest scam involves fake Telstra support workers seeking remote access to a victim's computer system in a bid to view personal information such as banking details.

The scammers may threaten, saying the person will be disconnected immediately or within minutes from their landline or internet unless they comply.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) data show a hike of 13 per cent to almost 40,000 crimes in 2013.

Among the most prominent scams are fake call centre operators impersonating technical staff.

There was also an increase of 47 per cent in internet scams and 14 per cent in email scams.

The combined loss to Australians from telephone and online fraud last year was $71 million.

Telstra Country Wide area general manager for the Illawarra, Tricia Wilson, said the number of complaints to the company about scams had increased fourfold in the past 12 months.

Telstra warned scammers could be convincing and plausible and would go to great lengths to try to dupe their victims into revealing personal information.

To report a scam contact the ACCC on 1300 795 995 or visit the SCAMwatch website at scamwatch.gov.au.

Tips to avoid phone scams:

Source: Telstra

■ If you're not sure that the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate, hang up and call the organisation by using their official contact details.

■ Be wary of sharing personal, credit card or banking details over the phone.

■ Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.

■ Make sure your computer is protected with updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

■ If your alarm bells are ringing - hang up.

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