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Tuesday, 24 July 2018 09:39

Mobile service text scams continue to take their toll Featured

Mobile service text scams continue to take their toll Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Scamming of mobile phone users with premium service texts has already cost Aussies $44,179 this year alone – and $153,197 in losses since 2015.

According to comparison website, its analysis of the ACCC’s Scamwatch data shows that more and more Aussies are being scammed by premium service texts – and the $44,000-plus lost so far this year is almost six times larger than from January to June 2015, when reported scam losses totalled just $7714.

Looking at full calendar years, finder says Scamwatch reveals that money lost from premium services scams has more than doubled, increasing by 146% from 2015 to 2017, and since 2015 mobile premium service scams have robbed Aussies of $153,197.

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.’s tech editor Alex Kidman warns that while some people may willingly sign up to these services, others might receive unsolicited messages, and be charged by scammers for just receiving the text.

Kidman says scammers are smart and if their tactics work, they keep using them.

“We may occasionally receive a nonsensical text that we read and then casually delete. What some people might not realise, is that a $4 or $6 charge appears on their bill later that month just for receiving it if it’s 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 to be blocked. In fact you can get all premium service numbers blocked.”

“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,” Kidman cautions.

“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.”

So if you are wondering how to know when you’re being scammed, says:

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

Here are the stats: 

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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