More than 500 individual complaints were received from victims of telco related fraud in the past financial year, a new report released by the Telecommunications Industry Ombud (TIO) shows.
The TIO published its ‘Defending phone and internet accounts from fraudsters’ on Wednesday.
Ombud Judi Jones released a statement saying that the risk of telephone and internet fraud has become more acute as consumers increasingly use their phone and internet to access goods and services. This includes digital means managing finances and verifying their identity.
“Each year Australians lose millions of dollars from fraud, often facilitated through phone or internet services,” Jones said.
“This report shows that the detriment suffered by consumers who are targeted by fraudsters through their phone or internet account can be devastating.”
The TIO is advising people to ensure their phone and internet accounts are as secure as possible and limit how much personal information is publicly available. People who notice any strange activity should also report it to their provider immediately.
“Telcos who have robust verification procedures and quick response times are more likely to prevent fraud from occurring and to limit detriment if a consumer does fall victim to fraud,” Jones said.
“And while these initiatives help to address some of the issues we found, both telcos and consumers must remain vigilant about the constantly evolving behaviour of fraudsters.”
Based on consumer feedback, the ombud also identified four common settings that made people more vulnerable to having their accounts compromised: weak security processes; delayed responses by providers to breaches of account security; consumers not knowing what to look out for; and constantly evolving fraud tactics and methods.
“The TIO’s systemic investigation powers means we can identify issues with the telco industry’s regular systems, processes or practices and issues that may cause harm to consumers,” Jones said.
Advice to strengthen processes for Telco providers included ensuring that high-risk transactions have strong security, facilitate quick and easy reports of potential breaches, and conduct regular reviews and updates of measures for account security.
“By investigating issues, raising awareness, and working with the telcos to make changes, we drive improvements in the delivery of phone and internet services. This leads to better outcomes for consumers and the telecommunications industry,” Jones added.