NBN comes to Gumeracha, Telco spammers and scammers

The National Broadband Network (NBN), or High Speed Internet was being rolled out throughout Gumeracha while we were there and people had been receiving spam calls from a number of Telco’s about upgrading their home phone and Internet packages. Within a year the old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) was being turned off and if you wanted a land line, you needed to have an NBN or compatible modem installed.

Don’t give in to their scare tactics!

We noticed quite a few calls being taken by Leonie’s mother about this. She was clearly getting upset and frustrated by the shear number and confusion of the calls as she had already settled on a plan with Telstra for the NBN prior to us arriving. We answered a few calls for her. They were purporting to be accredited by Telstra and trying in a very stealthy way to convince us to ignore any prior arrangements with Telstra or NBN as they “would take care of everything”. After asking how much this would cost, we were told $98.98 per month. We explained that is much more than the seniors plan offered by Telstra which is $59 per month giving unlimited local, national and mobile calls and 25GB of data per month. They couldn’t come near to matching that offer and hung up in anger.

That offer is not even well known even amongst Telstra salespeople. Vic had spent several hours with Telstra finding the best deal for his mother in law as she had previously settled on a pay as you go plan which works out much more per month. It’s only available for seniors and is called Home Internet Starter – Includes 25GB Broadband, unlimited local calls, standard national calls and calls to standard Australian mobiles, International Saver rates, MessageBank, Calling Number Display, Family Calls Benefit and Broadband Protect.

Our suspicion is that these callers are getting people’s names from the White Pages and cold calling them, knowing the NBN is being rolled out and generally taking advantage of the innocence of the elderly around these new technologies. The NBN, Voice-Over-IP, Modems/Routers and terms like that get lost on many people and they try to take advantage. Talking to a few townsfolk we found there was quite a bit of confusion about what the NBN rollout meant, despite there being a community town hall meeting about this in November. If you haven’t had the Internet before and are not used to having an ADSL router in your house, we can see how people question why they need an additional box (NBN router) installed in their house which needs to be powered. And if the power goes out (a common occurrence in South Australia, especially in the Hills during the summer), your regular phone won’t work where it did before so you better have a mobile phone handy. As Leonie’s mum lamented, “This is progress is it?”. One can only sympathise with her. The argument about increased Internet speeds won’t wash on someone who doesn’t use a computer or have Netflix.

Scammers pretending to be from Telstra Technical Support continue cold-calling Australians

During December and January we also fielded several scam callers saying our email was going to be cut off and to run a certain program on the computer to check it out. We adopted the tactic of stringing them out and wasting their time for as long as possible, one call lasting about 20 minutes until he realised what we were doing. He became quite agitated and even put us onto his manager, who insisted the call was legitimate, and then we told them what we thought about their scam. He too became agitated, accused us for wasting their time and then promptly hung up.

Others were like this one, published on ACCC’s Scamwatch, back in 2014, pretending to be from the “Telstra Technical Support Department”.

If you receive one of these calls, just ask them how they are able to sleep at night knowing they have scammed someone out of their money. They probably don’t care, but it usually results in them just hanging up.

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