Beware of scam phone surveys which lead to other scam calls
May 2011: SCAMwatch is warning Australians to be alert to scam telephone surveys which gather your personal and banking information and use it to make future scam phone calls you receive appear legitimate.
How the scam works
You receive a call out of the blue from a scammer who pretends to be conducting a legitimate telephone survey.
The scammer may claim to be from a genuine research or survey company or calling on behalf of a bank/financial institution.
Scammers often only ask a small number of questions, usually two or three.
Questions may focus on the bank or financial institution you use, whether you are happy with their service, and if you would consider changing banks.
You may also be asked which branch you opened your account at. Once the scammer knows your branch they can use it to find the BSB number which will often make up the starting digits of your bank account number.
Within a few weeks you may get a second scam call.
The second scam caller may try to convince you that they are legitimate by using the personal details you gave them during the telephone survey. They may seem convincing because they know which bank you are with, which branch you bank at, and the starting digits of your bank account number.
Scammers may quote the starting digits of your bank account number and then ask you to provide the remaining numbers.
Whilst telephone surveys are often conducted as part of legitimate research exercises, it is important to remember that scammers sometimes pose as surveyors in order to win your trust.
Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register. Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently or from anywhere it has bee publicly listed such as in a phone book.
If you are asked to participate in a telephone survey and are interested in participating, you don’t have to answer their questions straight away. If you are in any doubt at all, ask the caller which organisation they are from and arrange a time for them to call you back.
In the meantime call the organisation’s official contact number to ask if the survey is legitimate. If they answer no, or if you can’t find any mention of the organisation or their contact details, it is most likely a scam.
Never use the contact details provided by the person who called you - try to find official contact details through a phonebook or an online search.
Don’t give your personal, credit card or account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.