The ACCC has renewed warnings to consumers to be on heightened Scamwatch. This time for scams supposedly from major utilities – Telco, gas, electricity, water and more.

scamwatch“Scammers typically impersonate well-known companies such as Origin, AGL, Telstra and Optus via email, to fool people into assuming the bills are real,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“They send bulk emails or letters which include a logo and design features closely copied from the genuine provider. It states the account is overdue and if not paid immediately the customer will incur late charges or be disconnected.”

“Alternatively, the bill may claim that the customer has overpaid and is owed a refund. Or it may simply say the bill is due and ready to pay,” Rickard said.

Scamwatch – NSW is the most gullible trusting

New South Wales residents (1779) reported the highest number of incidents of the fake billing scam. Compared to

  • 1275 in Queensland
  • 1245 in Victoria,
  • 485 in Western Australia
  • 462 in South Australia
  • 132 in the ACT
  • 117 in Tasmania
  • 38 in the Northern Territory

“Older Australians should particularly be wary of emails pretending to be from utility companies, with people over 65 reporting the most fake utility billing scam incidents,”  Rickard said.

Scamwatch – How to spot a fake

  • If you receive a bill outside of your normal billing cycle or don’t expect to receive an overdue notice, call your provider to check whether it is legitimate.
  • If you are not a customer of the company simply delete the email.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in an email from an unverified sender – they may contain a malicious virus.
  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email or over the phone.
  • Keep your computer secure – always update your firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and only buy from a verified source.

GadgetGuy’s take – Scamwatch alert level heightened

You can help by reporting these things to Scamwatch. The online form is here.

Over the past few weeks, I have received seven fake bills from utilities. They are very good imitations and join the fake banks, PayPal, eBay and Amazon scams.

I know they are fake because I hover the mouse cursor over all links and eventually find the payload – that poisoned link.

This article is a public service announcement for the ACCC – it does a great job in protecting us.