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Australians Warned About New, Simple Phone Scam

If you start receiving multiple missed calls from unknown or overseas numbers, DO NOT call them back!

Mobile phone users are being warned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that a new scam has made it’s way to Australian shores known as a wangiri scam, which is Japanese for “one cut”.

“What typically happens is the scammer calls for just one ring then cuts the line leaving a missed call on the victim’s phone,”said Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of ACCC.

“Then the victim calls the number back and they could be put on hold, have music playing or they could try and chat. The objective is to keep them on the phone for as long as possible.”

Basically, the scammers make money by enticing people to call back the number, which will typically be a premium number and will add hefty charges to a persons phone bill.

“There’s a complicated billing structure but people are charged more when they’re communicating over these numbers and the money makes its way back to the scammer,” continued Ms Rickard.

And what is so shocking about this scam is that absolutely anyone can fall for it. The latest victim was a 10-year-old boy from Brisbane who notified his parents when his phone started being bombarded with missed calls from a number in the Ascension Island, Africa.

The boy's parents were understandably concerned that their son had only had his phone for a week and was all of a sudden being harassed by a number starting with the area code +247, and so they called the number back.

The call was answered by a woman who didn’t speak English and therefore the call was dragged out as she couldn’t answer the parent’s questions. The Brisbane based family still don’t know just how much money they were charged for the call.

It is believed that the scammers can access our phone numbers through random generators, or through online surveys, competitions or apps that ask you to fill in your personal information.

The advice being given to Aussies is to ignore any missed calls from random country codes or premium numbers such as 19 or 1900 and to block the numbers if they ever attempt to call you.

Ms Rickard has also said that if something similar has happened to you, you should call your phone provider and let them know what’s happened so that you can avoid paying the charges.

“Some mobile providers are prepared to do that, so it’s worth a try if you want your money back,” she said.

Victims of the scam should also report their experience to the ACCC’s Scamwatch website.

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