If you are called up out of the blue and told your computer has a virus, hang up immediately, Australians are being warned.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) are warning broadband and computer users not to fall for a new scam, where victims are asked for credit card details to 'fix' a problem with their computer.
"Over the past two months complaints about scam telephone calls to the ACCC and the ACMA have increased significantly from 200 per month to around 2,000 across the two agencies," said ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman.
"Consumers can stop themselves being scammed by never disclosing any personal or financial details to these callers," added ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel.
"Cutting off the lifeline is the best way to disrupt scammers."
Callers, often pretending to be from Microsoft or other companies, advise the person's computer is infected with a virus. The caller then proceeds to request credit card details so the victim's computer can be updated with anti-virus software.
The agencies are also warning about similar scams, including callers offering to process a bank fee refund or tax refund for a fee, offering products or services under fake government grants, and asking consumers to dial a premium number for a fake prize.
If you get an unsolicited call – or email – with a request for personal information, it may be a scam. Often the scammers pretend to be from your own bank, ISP or other genuine company that you deal with.
Do not respond, instead independently find their contact details from a trustworthy source such as a phone book and contact the organisation directly. Find out more about staying safe online in this article.