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Spam communication on the rise

Dubbo communications business owner Mathew Dickerson, right, says smartphone and email users should always be sceptical – “be alert, not alarmed.” He’s pictured with Andy Dickerson. Photo: Darcee Nixon Dubbo communications business owner Mathew Dickerson, right, says smartphone and email users should always be sceptical – “be alert, not alarmed.” He’s pictured with Andy Dickerson. Photo: Darcee Nixon

With spam communications on the rise, Axxis founder Mathew Dickerson says that being aware of potential scammers is the first step towards combating the problem.

“There is no doubt that it is increasing,” he told Dubbo Photo News.

“We have people coming in on a regular basis who have been contacted by someone whose intentions are questionable.

“Their initial reaction tends to be that it’s a scam from someone trying to steal their money or identity without their knowledge.”

When receiving a phone call from an unrecognised number, Mr Dickerson says there are certain considerations.

“(The person receiving the call’s) typical reaction is to hang up – but it could be a legitimate parcel or overdue bill.”

However, there are so many scams out there including fake Telstra tech support offering to assist with a ‘virus’, or fake caller claiming to be from computer manufacturers such as Hewlett Packard.

“One of the big flags is if they are asking for information that they should know. That’s the first indication that it’s maybe not legitimate.

“Companies like Telstra should know who they are ringing and they will just confirm it. But when someone rings you asking you to give them the information, then that’s a red flag.”

Unsolicited phone calls from foreign countries, obvious pauses at the beginning of a conversation and calling from a bad line are among the causes for concern when receiving an unwanted telephone caller.

“If there’s no caller ID, if it’s an overseas phone call, when there’s a delay or it’s hard to understand them, or if they ask for someone to call them back – you need to ask yourself if it is it something you want or need?”

Mr Dickerson said that large companies such as Telstra will hardly ever call their customers with marketing offers.

“That rarely happens.”

He pointed out that special deals such as holidays, cash bonuses or free iPhones offered by businesses or individuals were usually too good to be true.

“These scammers are taking advantage of people’s desire to be a winner, to be lucky, to get something for nothing. If it doesn’t sound right or realistic, then it’s probably not. They are really taking advantage of people who want this to happen.”

Mr Dickerson said it’s wise to use common sense when checking emails as well.

“If you are unsure about something, if it’s unusual, then you need to be concerned.

“When you get an email that’s a scam, ignore the sender. It’s very easy to spoof an email address but if you look over the body of the email and hover over the link – look at the domain name. If it’s different than the sender, then it’s something to be suspicious of.

“If you see an email from Qantas or the ATO for example, rather than using the links, go directly to the website and type in the search. The emails look so realistic, they even have logos.

“You always want to be sceptical, to be alert, not alarmed.”

Mr Dickerson said the same principle can be used with unsolicited links sent by SMS.

“If you haven’t ordered something and it asks you to click on the link, it could corrupt your phone.”

Mathew Dickerson’s tips to avoid scams:

Don’t click on any links via email or SMS that you don’t trust

Don’t give out personal information to callers you don’t know

Don’t agree to a special offer or give away if it sounds unrealistic

Know the signs of phone calls that might be scams