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ACCC Warns Australians about Fake Utility Bills

Cnet.com.au reported on 1st May, 2014 stating that the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has warned Australians about a phishing e-mail that asks consumers to pay fake gas or electricity bills as a process of wider crack down on e-mail swindles and online frauds.

ACCC is an independent authority of the Australian Government which is especially responsible for protection of consumer rights of Australians.

The ACCC observed that the e-mails look genuine and impersonate legitimate energy
firms requesting for outstanding payment and claims that consumers have crossed their limit of usage of energy and can receive discount if they pay straight away.

The ACCC said that the e-mail instructs the user to click on a link or attached file to see his statement and pay.

However, if the user clicks on the link, his PC may be tainted with malware/malicious software which allows cybercriminals to access his computer remotely and see him entering personal information like details of online banking."

Psnews.com.au published news on 5th May, 2014 quoting Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of ACCC as saying "the link would take people to a web page with all characteristics of an e-payment service including account number, account summary, billing period, due date and instructions for payment."

She said that transfers of money via wire were favorite among fraudsters because they were hard to track and the funds were nearly impossible to recover.

Ms Rickard said that once scammers got personal details, they could steal money or identity.

She confirmed that criminals will try every possible trick to steal your money as ACCC received more than 300 contacts about this fraud this year but what is published is just the tip of the iceberg.

Therefore, if you get an e-mail all of a sudden from energy company asking for money, then don't reply or click on any link or open any files in spam e-mails. Never send account details or passwords via e-mail as it is the most insecure system. However, if you have been affected by a phishing scam, report your story to Scamwatch which is an Australian agency to prevent Australians from fraudulent e-mails. Reporting shall help ACCC in cautioning others from such scams.

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