As cyber-criminals and scammers bombard Aussies during Covid-19 lockdown, spam callers have turned to an infuriating new tactic to harass people on their mobile phones.
If you get a phone call from an unknown number starting with “0480 036” – don’t answer it.
In recent months, hundreds of users on reverse phone number lookup websites have reported spam calls coming from a series of phone numbers sharing the same seven digit prefixes.
“Multiple calls a day with the same prefix 0480 036. Just different last three numbers. Never leave a message. Borderline harassment calls. Sometimes six a day,” one person reported on scam watch website Telguarder.
Block the number, and pretty soon another call comes through from a number with the same first seven digits – with the last three numbers changed.
Cast your vote
Another person wrote, “I’ve also been getting multiple unrelenting calls from number beginning with 0480 036 XXX with different last digit variations. When I pick up they hang up.”
They added, “Before this, I was getting calls from different numbers with the same fake prerecorded message about being wanted by the government for a crime, clearly a scare tactic. The number variations around this one were 0401 747 XXX, 0439 048 XXX, 0431 575 XXX to name a few.”
Users on the Reverse Australia website shared similar stories.
“I receive at least two calls from the prefix 0480 012 per day,” one person wrote. “When I block the number they just auto-dial from another number. I imagine they have a system that cycles through numbers that have been blocked. Pain in the f***ing arse.”
It comes as more than $50 million has already been swindled from Australians through phone-based scams and a recent spike in phishing schemes this year.
And the scammers are picking up pace – the number of phishing scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ScamWatch doubled in August. ScamWatch had received about 5000 complaints of phishing each month of 2021 but this number soared last month with 11,000 complaints recorded.
What is phishing?
A scammer contacts you pretending to be from a legitimate business such a bank, telephone or internet service provider. You may be contacted by email, social media, phone call, or text message. The scammer asks you to provide or confirm your personal details. For example, the scammer may say that the bank or organisation is verifying customer records due to a technical error that wiped out customer data. Or, they may ask you to fill out a customer survey and offer a prize for participating.
In 2021, NSW recorded the most complaints with 14,425 closely followed by Victoria with 12,475. However, there is a major concern that the number of phone scams in the community is much higher.
An Australian Communications and Media Authority spokesman told news.com.au there has been a huge amount of money lost to these scams already. “Scamwatch reports Australians have lost $52,556,982 from phone scams so far in 2021,” he said.