Customers of the global telco are currently being targeted in an illegal phishing email scam and it’s unclear how many have been impacted so far.
The news became public when the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that a “sophisticated” email scam was underway targeting the global telco’s Australian customers.
Phishing scams are a strategy used by cyber criminals to obtain a victim’s personal information such as bank accounts, passwords and credit card numbers by impersonating legitimate businesses, government departments or other institutions.
The emails claim to be from Optus’ billing department with the subject line: “We are unable to process your last payment.” They are attempting to lure customers to a disguised landing page, masked by convincing Optus branding. Once on the page, customers were asking to fill in a fake billing information form that once completed would give the scammers the victim’s personal and credit card information.
The Optus phishing scam - Source: ACMA
According to Optus, the fake email contains several common elements to a typical phishing email impersonating the company. Firstly, the email contains a generic greeting – “Dear customer.” It also urgently requests private and sensitive information with a threat of suspension or interruption of service if failing to do so. Another common trick the scammers used was hiding their URL address within the button labelled ‘continue’ – making the destination of the link hidden until it is clicked.
In response, an Optus spokesperson told Gizmodo:
“We reacted quickly to block the website linked to the email, which will ensure Optus mobile and internet customers who mistakenly click the link won’t be able to access the site. We’ve also reported the site and requested it is taken down."
This particular scam comes only one month after a similar phishing operation was publicised for targeting Medicare customers. In that instance the phishers followed the same formula by crafting a carefully branded email asking for Medicare customers to log into their myGov accounts and update their payment details.
Source: Stay Smart Online
Then the victims were directed to a replica of the actual Australian Government’s myGov page. If you put your login details at this point the scammers would now have access to your account, including possibly your Tax File Number.
Note the unofficial “.net” domain – Source: Stay Safe Online
The victims were then taken to a less impressively designed ‘banking details’ webpage and asked to put in their bank details in order to receive their Electronic Funds Transfer (ETF).
Source: Stay Safe Online
These types of false phishing scams can target both businesses and consumers, making them one of the most lucrative activities for cyber criminals. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) website SCAMWATCH estimates that at least $364,849 has been stolen through phishing scams so far in 2018. Those figures are based off 13,138 reported incidents where only 1.4% of reports resulted in financial losses.
As seen in the diagram above, phishing scams are the most common scam encountered by the consumer protection agency. Although phishing scams are well-known for their association with email (28.1%) they are more common to occur on a direct phone call (44.5%) and are being increasingly conducted via text message (21.3%).
Those that are typically most targeted by phishing scams tend to be people over 65 years of age due to their inexperience with managing accounts online and lower levels of digital literacy.
If you receive a suspicious email asking you to input any personal information, contact that organisation directly to clarify it was them. If not, delete it immediately.