April Davis

Telemarketing: How to stop the seven o’clock scourge

Image: AAP

April Davis is tired of telemarketing calls clashing with her tea time and she’s wondering if there’s a permanent solution to stop the scammers.

 

You’ve just sat down for dinner and the phone rings. Begrudgingly, you slip out of your chair sighing in frustration and answer the phone. After saying hello you get that dreaded lag, you tap your foot impatiently waiting to see what the telemarketer wants. You expect to hear a foreign voice down the phone trying to sell you the latest phone or internet plans, or a research centre wanting to do a quick survey. You stare at your dinner going cold on the table and wonder why you held the line thinking to yourself that you should just hang up. Then someone speaks…

It’s a Telstra representative telling you there’s something wrong with your computer and that they need you to give them remote access to your computer so they can fix it. A few things run through your head. You think:

A. Crap, what’s wrong with the bloody thing now?

B. How the hell can they fix it remotely?

C. Do whatever they say so I don’t have to deal with problems later.

D. I’m not with Telstra, this is a scam!

Unfortunately, answers A and C are common responses to the latest craze of telemarketing scams to blemish our phone lines, with Telstra copping the worst blows as scammers pretend to be their representatives in order to cheat innocent Australians out of their money and online security.

An incident on the Gold Coast last week has left Ms Van Hoof Kemp and her 11-year-old-son James in outrage after an Indian call centre representative posing as a Telstra rep abused them.

“It was really disgusting,’’ she said. “We’ve got a silent number but we still get an average of six calls a week from various telemarketers and scammers, mainly with Indian accents. They get very pushy and aggressive but this time they’ve gone too far.’’

In response to this Telstra has barred international callers from calling her line and have released the following tips to help protect people against these scams:

  • If you’re not sure that the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate, hang up and call the organisation by using their official contact details
  • Be wary of sharing personal, credit card or banking details over the phone
  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer
  • Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated antivirus and anti-spyware software
  • If you think something’s not quite right, just hang up

Now, my question to Telstra’s response is this: If they can bar all telemarketing calls from getting through why is this service not offered to all Telstra customers? In my home, we receive multiple calls a week and although we know to hang up every time, it’s disconcerting how often these scammers will address you by name.

The first time I received one of these calls I almost fell into their trap because it seemed legitimate. I only realised what was happening when they identified my desktop as a Microsoft computer when I have a laptop and a Mac. Others are not so lucky. In 2011, there were an estimated 44,000 phone calls made to Australian residents by scammers where they strive to gain access to your computer and install spyware so they can steal your personal details, banking and credit card information.

In the past there have been services to block telemarketing, but these services often don’t provide a permanent solution with calls still leaking through. Australians should not have to worry about being cheated every time they pick up their phones. This should be a priority for phone companies and law enforcement, they should be protecting us against these scams and preventing those responsible from cheating us.

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To celebrate being a year old, we want you, the readers, to help us decide the articles you loved best during our first year and to encourage you  to participate, we are giving away three prizes!

YES – PRIZES. FREE THINGS. THINGS YOU GET FOR NOTHING.

Well, actually it’s also to thank you for being such good eggs and being involved with The Big Smoke…we love you. Seriously. We do.

All you have to do is look through our archives of content and email us your favourite article and also if you want, the one you weren’t so up with. From the submissions, we will assess the most-loved content from our first year and republish it at the end of our birthday month.

Both writers and readers are encouraged to enter (No, Paris, you cannot nominate your own articles…#justsaying), so please email us at [email protected] by 30th November to enter! Please include your name, address and mobile number.

And the prizes are…(did we mention there are prizes…?)

First prize: A brilliant acting course based in Sydney and hosted by Darlo Drama worth $550!

Second prize: A $100 book gift pack

Third prize: Four movie passes

(Plus watch out for a couple of of other competitions during our birthday month –

we like the party to go on forever!)

April Davis

April Davis, a young Melbourne-based writer finishing a degree in professional writing and publishing, is an aspiring novelist flirting with the idea of historical fiction. She spends most of her time reading, writing and contributing book reviews to online publications.

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2 Comments

  1. axiomsl said:

    We did the same with cutting off our land line. Donotcall work for businesses but not for charities.
    I get the occasional call on my mobile and when I do I try to keep them talking so I can get the company name. If you are registered with “donotcall” and report an unwanted call to them they do take action.

  2. Rainer the cabbie said:

    I haven’t had a landline for two years now, that solved the problem. However, when I did I got onto the “do not call” register and the calls came to an end. When one slipped through I mentioned this fact and the operator backed down quickly.
    Check it out at https://www.donotcall.gov.au

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