ACCC warns of VIPtel Mobile-related scam

Phone calls offering refunds to VIPtel customers are scammers, ACCC says

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned of a new telco scam doing the rounds which promises refunds to current and former VIPtel customers.

In a consumer warning the ACCC said scammers were contacting people via phone offering refund — which the scammers claim is the result of a court action — in exchange for payment of a fee via money transfer.

According to the ACCC, there have been more than 60 complaints and enquiries about the scam, with some reported losses of more than $3000.

VIPtel itself is also advising customers of the scam on its website.

“Fraudsters have been contacting some VIPTel customers and requesting that customers transfer money to them. Often, the fraudsters pose as VIPTel employees or Centrelink officials, claiming that in return for the customer transferring money, the customer will receive call credits, refunds or be represented in legal proceedings,” The site reads.

“Beware — this is a SCAM. If you have been the victim of a SCAM, you can report a SCAM to SCAMwatch via their website at www.scamwatch.gov.au or by telephone to 1300 795 995.”

The ACCC said despite taking a number of court actions against EDirect Pty Ltd, which at the time traded as VIPtel Mobile, there were no refunds for any current or former VIPtel Mobile customers as a result of these court actions.

However, the ACCC said in August 2008 that an action it had taken against VIPtel for misleading telephone calls was found by a Darwin Court to have been a breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974, and resulting in court enforceable undertakings to the ACCC regarding refunds to consumers

In August 2010 the consumer regulator took VIPtel to Federal Court for alleged misleading and unconscionable conduct and called for declarations and injunctions to “stop any contravening conduct and improve EDirect's business practices, and court costs”.

At the time the ACCC alleged EDirect misled customers when making telemarketing calls for mobile phone packages by telling them family and friends “loved the calling plan” they were being offered and that the customers had “pre-approved credit” and could therefore afford the plan.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @Tlohman

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Tags VIPtel MobileAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)security

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