National Broadband Network (NBN) Scams
With Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard
NBN scams warning
As the roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) progresses in Western Australia there are some buyer beware and scam warning messages for consumers and businesses.
In the first instance, to find out whether NBN is available in your area, or coming soon, log on to the NBN Co website. NBN Co may send you a letter or brochures about what to do and listing suppliers for where you live or have a business premises but they will NOT ask you for any money, personal details or banking information; nor will they try to sell you equipment.
You may receive genuine marketing phone calls or a knock at the door from companies you haven’t heard of before offering you a deal if you switch to, or use, them. However, you need to go with your preferred phone and internet provider and choose a plan that suits your needs. Do not fall for high pressure sales tactics. Take a contact name, the business name and a phone number and put the phone down, or close the door, to give you time to do some homework. If you do sign-up in error you may have a right to cancel during a 10 business day cooling off period if it is classed as an unsolicited (uninvited) consumer agreement under the Australian Consumer Law – see our website.
If you are already under contract with a company you need to check your rights and obligations about cancelling your existing service. If you are not with a service provider, make sure you research your options. The NBN website, previously mentioned, lists the providers for each area. As you may not have heard of many of them before, do an internet search for positive or negative information posted by customers.
With most major government programs or announcements, scammers jump on the bandwagon and use the new scheme and consumer confusion as an opportunity to dupe people and steal personal details or money. The NBN roll-out is no exception.
In South West WA an elderly lady received an out-of-the-blue telemarketing call regarding the NBN. She thought she was speaking with Telstra, who she has a contract with, and provided her credit card details. After hanging up, she panicked and called Telstra via a known number and they confirmed it was not them who had called. She phoned back the other telecom company to cancel the contract but they wouldn’t let her and she ended up going to the bank to cancel her credit card, which is when she was referred to Consumer Protection’s Bunbury office. She faced further harassment when trying to exercise her right to cancel the contract and we had to intervene. An online search of the telecom company name reveals a number of similar harassment stories, which are being looked into.
Another NBN scam report from the South West concerned a man posing as a Telstra working and going door to door in a retirement village. A resident became suspicious about the questions asked, such as her Medicare number, so she called the Manager of the retirement village. The Manager called Telstra who confirmed the identity badge being used by the door-knocker was a fake and the scammer was ordered off the premises.
Protect yourself from scammers who door-knock, call or email with false claims that they need secure information. Do not give out details such as credit card numbers until you have properly verified who you are talking to. This means contacting the business, organisation or government department on an independently-sourced and trusted phone number (from the phone book for example) to ensure the person you are dealing with truly works for them.
Scammers may also try to convince you to buy new equipment to use services over the NBN when it is not really needed. Contact your service provider directly to make sure new equipment is actually required. Before purchasing any new equipment for the NBN, make sure you do your own research and shop around.
If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.