Energy company phone scam warning
A restaurant in Perth has lost $1350 in a phone scam where the caller pretended to be from Alinta Energy and threatened to cut off the power over an unpaid bill.
The caller urged the restaurant employee to pay by direct bank transfer immediately to avoid the power being cut off within the hour.
Scammers create a false sense of urgency so you pay in panic.
The restaurant paid the money because of the impact loss of power would have on the business. The money went into an ANZ account in New South Wales.
After putting the phone down the restaurant contacted Alinta only to be told the account was up-to-date and that the earlier call must have been a scam.
The earlier call came from the number 1300 014 403, which when searched online reveals it has been used in energy phone scams across the states and territories using different company names including AGL and Energy Australia. We have even seen fake energy bills email scams.
The restaurant tried to get the bank to reverse the transaction but it was too late.
Phone scam prevention tips
- Be careful not to give away details as you answer the phone if possible. For example use your business name but if the caller makes this type of payment demand ask them to tell you the name of the company or the person registered on the billing account.
- Be suspicious of the caller if it is not someone you have spoken to before. Don’t just believe that they are who they say they are. Scammers lie and claim to be from utility, telecommunication or internet companies and even government agencies such as the tax office.
- If an uninvited caller wants money, card / bank account details or secure personal identifier information, stop the conversation and get off the phone to think it through and carry out some checks to verify if the caller is who they say they are.
- Ask the person for their name and phone number, explain that you will call back and hang up. Someone not allowing you to hang up and instead trying to rush you into making a decision to pay should ring alarm bells. You need to get off the phone and stay in control.
- Using a number you have obtained independently, for example from a bill you received in the mail, the phone book or the known, official website. Then make contact with the organisation and confirm that the person who called you is truly an employee and that their claims are correct.
- If it turns out to be a scam do not call back. You can call WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54 if you would like to report the scam attempt. Alternatively, email Consumer Protection.