The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has threatened telemarketers attempting to pass off fraudulent virus protections schemes with fines of up to $110,000.
Alleged telemarketers use tactics such as the increasingly used Windows Event Viewer scam where the caller claims to be a representative of a software company and requests the recipient to run a program to fix bugs in the operating system. Other callers claim they can remove the virus for a fee.
ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said in a statement that nearly half of the complaints it had received this year about calls made to numbers on the Do Not Call Register had been about computer virus telemarketers.
The register is a free Federal Government service where Australians register their numbers to opt out of telemarketing calls. “The ACMA understands that while some businesses offer a legitimate virus prevention or removal service, many are falsely claiming to be related to reputable companies, such as Microsoft,” he said.
“Australian consumers have had enough. Telemarketers that are investigated by the ACMA run the risk of incurring penalties of up to $110,000 per day,” he said.
The authority has begun a targeted compliance campaign aimed at businesses that offer online virus removal and technical support.
The campaign includes formal investigations into four separate computer virus companies. An ACMA spokeswoman declined to name the companies. In addition, the ACMA is working with voice over internet protocol (VoIP) providers to identify rogue telemarketers.
Chapman said it was cooperating with international regulators on strategies to tackle the problem and working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as some of the telemarketers may be contravening consumer law.
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