Reported losses from NBN scams increase by nearly 300% in 2019: ACCC

Consumers lost more than AU$110,000 each month in the January to May period.

Australian consumers reported over AU$110,000 in monthly losses from NBN scams in the January-May 2019 period, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

Compared to the average monthly losses of AU$38,500 in 2018, this is a near 300% increase.

"People aged over 65 are particularly vulnerable, making the most reports and losing more than AU$330,000 this year. That's more than 60% of the current losses," ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.

Despite being only halfway through the year, the amount of reported losses for NBN scams in 2019 has already exceeded the total of last year's losses, which was around AU$462,000.

"Scammers are increasingly using trusted brands like 'NBN' to trick unsuspecting consumers into parting with their money or personal information," Rickard added.

See also: ACCC questions fairness of NBN basic pricing  

The most common types of NBN scams, the ACCC said, include scammers pretending to be the NBN attempting to sell NBN services or test the speed of their connection and asking them to provide personal details such as their name, address, date of birth, and Medicare number or payment; scammers pretending to be NBN Co or an internet provider and claiming there is a connection problem that requires remote access to fix, allowing them to install malware or steal valuable personal information; and scammers calling during a blackout offering consumers the ability to stay connected during a blackout for an extra fee.

"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," NBN Co chief security officer Darren Kane said. 

"We will never request remote access to a resident's computer and we will never make unsolicited requests for payment or financial information."

This follows the ACCC in April releasing its annual Targeting scams report, which unveiled that the total combined losses from scams in 2018 exceeded AU$489 million  -- AU$149 million more than the year prior, up 41.7% year on year.

Of that total reported amount, AU$107 million was reported to Scamwatch, the ACCC's scam reporting website.

"These record losses are likely just the tip of the iceberg. We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency," Rickard said at the time.

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