If you think the texts you receive out of the blue are harmless and don’t cost you anything, think again.
More Australians are being scammed by premium service texts, according to comparison website finder.com.au.
Its analysis of data from the ACCC’s ScamWatch shows mobile premium service scams are on the rise, with Australians scammed out of $44,179 in 2018 so far.
This year’s tally is almost six times larger than January to June 2015, when reported scams totalled $7,714.
Mobile premium service texts usually come from numbers that start with 19, and they deliver anything from news and financial data to horoscopes, ringtones, adult services, competitions and games.
While some people may willingly sign up to these services, others might receive unsolicited messages and be charged by scammers for receiving the text.
Finder’s Alex Kidman said scammers were smart and if their tactics worked, they kept using them.
“We may occasionally receive a nonsensical text that we read and then casually delete,” Mr Kidman said.
“What some people might not realise is a $4 or $6 charge appears on their bill later that month just for receiving a text from a premium service you’ve unwittingly signed up for."
“If you receive a text from a service you don’t recognise or don’t remember signing up to, chances are it’s a scam. Call your telco and ask for the number – or all premium service numbers - to be blocked."
Mr Kidman said money lost from premium services scams had more than doubled, rising by 146 per cent from 2015 to 2017. Since 2015, mobile premium service scams had cost Australians $153,197.
“Don’t be fooled by messages offering gift vouchers from well-known brands or competitions with great prizes. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” Mr Kidman said.
“Always check your bill. If it’s higher than usual and not related to excess data charges or overseas calls, look out for premium service charges.”
How to know when you’re being scammed
1. You’ve received a message from a business you have never heard of or don’t remember signing up to
2. The text is from a phone number that starts with 19
3. You notice extra charges on your bill for third-party services.