Mind your mobile – watch out for scams

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) supports the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce campaign to educate consumers about how to avoid being caught out by scams.

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, last week jointly launched the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s four-week campaign with the message: “Scams target you – protect yourself”.

AMTA has released consumer tips on how to protect your mobile phone against scams. AMTA’s tips can be viewed at: /default.asp?id=367

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said the mobile phone industry was committed to promoting safe, responsible and affordable access to all the benefits that mobile phones can bring to the community and was a partner of the Taskforce, which included State, Territory and the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

“Regrettably, there are scams that prey on mobile phone users and other telecommunications devices with offers of windfalls that aim to defraud consumers,” he said.

“We believe this anti-fraud campaign is very important because it is informing consumers about practices that can leave them out of pocket and getting material on their mobile phones that they don’t want and did not order.”

Mr Althaus said AMTA’s tips aim to help people protect their mobile phones from scams and spam. Scams were designed to trick people into using 19X (SMS and MMS services) and 190X (voice services) numbers that are charged at a premium rate for every message sent and received or calls.

He said it was important for mobile phone users to protect their numbers because prevention was the key. “For instance, be careful when registering your mobile phone details with any organisation, signing up or giving your details. Do they need your number and what do they need it for?,” he said.

Mr Althaus said ask questions if you have any doubts or do not understand. “A company offering genuine products and services should answer all your questions. If you receive an SMS of MMS message offering a product or service, it should include the name of the organisation or individual who sent the message, contact details and a way of opting out.

“Legitimate commercial messages sent from Australian businesses are required by law to include this information. If they do not it could be scam or spam,” he said.

Mr Althaus said if people received an offer sent to their mobile phone it was very important to know if it was a one-off cost or were they signing up to an ongoing cost of a subscription service.

“Always check your bill for any charges you did not authorise. Premium rate calls and subscription services should be included on your bill. Contact your mobile phone company if you have any questions. Check to see if your mobile phone company can place a monthly spending limit on premium SMS services. Some mobile phone companies impose an automatic monthly spending limit on the total bill, which they may be able to reduce,” he said.

The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s website: www.scamwatch.gov.au is an important resource to help inform consumers concerned about scams.

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550