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After sweeping Ireland and New Zealand in recent years, this phone scam is permeating Australia. It’s simple, effective and could be very costly to you.

The scammers phone your mobile number from Slovenia, Liberia, Mauritania, Tonga, Vanuatu or Morocco (or somewhere else exotic) and hang up without giving you time to answer. Like most of us, you are curious to see who called you and you can’t resist the urge to call back. If you have a pre-paid number it is likely your monthly call credit will be drained. Got a post-paid? Be prepared for a very large bill.

The scammers have set up a premium toll number, which charges you at an exorbitant rate, reportedly up to and sometimes exceeding $8 per minute! This scam has been nicknamed ‘Wangiri’ which is a Japanese term meaning ‘wan’ for ‘one’ and ‘giri’ for ‘cut’. So, something like ‘one ring and cut’.

What can you do if you receive such a call? The steps are simple.

  • Do not answer
  • Block this caller
  • Be wary of multiple calls being received from the same number
  • Do not call back any number that leaves you a blank voicemail message
  • Do not provide any personal information, for example banking details, Medicare number, credit card details, name, address, passport number, etc.
  • If you are expecting an overseas call, Google the number to identify the country before calling back.