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Phone scammers switch bait from Qantas to Virgin

May 27, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Members of the public are receiving unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from Virgin Australia and offering a prize.

The calls, which are not really from Virgin Australia, are automated, so as soon as recipients pick up the phone, a voice starts delivering a pre-recorded spiel. The calls are apparently part of a scam. Sometimes they say that your most recent Virgin flight has won you a prize – perhaps convincing a few people who have recently flown Virgin.

A similar scam, using Qantas as ‘bait’ occurred last month.

Virgin Australia has now issued a warning about the scam, saying the so-called ‘prize’ the automated scam message refers to requires recipients of the calls to divulge their credit card information.

“We strongly advise customers to hang up immediately if you suspect you have received a scam phone call,” the airline warns.

“If you have provided your details, please contact your financial institution immediately. A number of Australian businesses have been targ250x250TICBannereted in this scam including banks and other airlines.”

Virgin Australia says it is fully cooperating with authorities and apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Just last month, the federal Government’s SCAMwatch team warned people about automated calls from scammers posing as Qantas staff claiming that they’ve won a credit towards their next holiday.

“If you receive this call, hang up,” SCAMwatch advised.

The SCAMwatch alert said: “Reports have been received from both consumers and businesses about these scam calls, where the recipient picks up the phone and hears a recorded message that claims to be from Qantas. The message will claim that because the person has recently booked a flight with Qantas, they have won a ‘travel prize’ or ‘credit points’ – typically AUD 999 – towards their next holiday.

“In order to redeem the credit, the person is directed to press ‘1’. At this point, the person is put directly through to a scammer, who will then state that in order to be eligible for the prize, the person has to ask a few questions first. The scammer may ask whether the person is aged over 30, whether they have a valid credit card, and finally ask for their credit card details so that the prize can be processed.

“If you hand over your credit card details, you will find that money has been taken rather than deposited from your bank account.

“These scammers appear to be persistent, with some consumers and businesses reporting that they have received several of these calls in one day. Unfortunately scammers pay no heed to private phone numbers or numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register, so if you have a number like this, you can still expect to receive this call.”

Qantas advised at the time that its consultants will always call customers directly to discuss their bookings and do not use an automated phone system when contacting customers proactively.

Qantas and SCAMwatch also warned that the scammers often pose as well-known and reputable businesses to try and convince people that they’re the real deal.

Just hang up.

Written by : Peter Needham

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