Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 410. Updated Tuesday, 20 May 2014

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Scammers power up with fake bills

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning consumers to watch out for a new phishing email asking you to pay bogus gas or electricity bills.

Deputy Chair of ACCC, Delia Rickard said the emails purported to be from legitimate energy companies and looked like the real deal and might claim you have an amount owing for exceeding your energy consumption limit and that you are eligible to use a discounted energy tariff if you pay the bill now.

Ms Rickard said the email directed people to click on a link or attachment to view the statement and arrange payment.

"If you click, your computer may become infected with malicious software that allows scammers to remote access into your computer and watch you entering personal information such as online banking details," she said.

ACCC warns of 'utilities' email

Ms Rickard said the link took people to a webpage with all of the hallmarks of an online payment service, including account summary, account number, billing period, due date and instructions for payment.

She said once scammers had personal information, they could steal money or identity, with some reports surfacing about scammers approaching consumers via phone, SMS and post.

"Scammers will try every trick in the book to get a hold of your money," Ms Rickard said.

"The ACCC has received over 300 contacts about this scam this year but what is reported is often just the tip of the iceberg."

Ms Rickard said people should delete emails out of the blue from an energy company requesting money.

If you receive an email from your energy company and you are not sure if it is a scam, verify the content by contacting them directly before you open the email.

Don't click 'reply', rather find their details through an independent source such as a web search.

She said it was also important to keep your computer secure by having up-to-date firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution.

You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.

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