OUTRAGED: Bruce Kerr says offshore call centres enable phone scams. Picture: File
OUTRAGED: Bruce Kerr says offshore call centres enable phone scams. Picture: File

BYTE ME: The fight against cybercrime powers up

WELCOME to 2020 and the first Byte Me article for the year.

I trust that most had a well-earned break and are now looking forward to a great year ahead. We start back on Monday, January 6 with a refreshed team including some new faces and will be right back into the massive number of Windows 7 upgrades that are due.

As mentioned in my last article, 2020 will also mark the year that we truly amp up the fight against cybercrime and we will be calling upon your help to spread the news. The more that we can make Australia a harder target for cybercrime the less we will be targeted. We need to arm people with knowledge about scams and how to avoid them and this knowledge needs to be passed on to others.

I dropped into the shop quickly on Thursday this week to check on everything and was disappointed to find three more phone messages from people who have become recent victims of cybercrime. This is no less a war that we are fighting against foreign threats and it needs more public attention.

Still one of the biggest factors in this war is the decision by so many Australian service industries (in the telco and insurance sectors for instance) to host their customer service centres offshore.

One of the largest perpetrators here is our own Australian owned Telstra, who has outsourced most of its call centres to both India and the Philippines.

Why did they do this?

It was far less about actual customer service and more about cost saving. A typical call centre salary in Australia is $50k /year compared to around one tenth of that ($5k /year) for a Philippine call centre worker. However, when you look at Telstra's last year profit of more than $2 billion that same figure equates to more than 20,000 Australian based call centre jobs. So why am I so down on Telstra?

You can correct me if I am wrong, but from my point of view - Telstra largely started this rot. They have conditioned us to the point that we are now expecting to talk to an offshore character when we inquire about a technical fault with our internet or our phones. This is a situation that would never have been tolerated just several decades ago - but has now become common place.

We have been conditioned to the point that a foreigner who we can barely understand, can call us at random under the pretence that the call is about our internet or phones and they will still get a hearing from many. They (the scamming houses) know our situation with the telcos and they use this as leverage to add credence to their scam calls.

Another even more successful cybercrime trend that is appearing is the inbound call from a scamming house just minutes after we have finished on an outbound call with a telco representative.

Here, we have reported a fault or problem to someone in India or the Philippines and now we have a call from the same country from another hard to understand person that has all our details.

We automatically trust them and often give them full access to our computers just to find out a week later that they have stolen our credit card or banking details - and our money.

Scams like this exist because the call centre worker's brother or cousin can earn a full year's call centre salary from the scam.

And do you think for once second that the actual call centre employee is beyond reproach with bribes of this sort?

This year we are going to put may systems in place for both our home and business customers to reduce or remove cybercrime.

But we still need public help to show outrage at these offshore call centres that are costing Australian jobs and Australians' pockets.

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to bytemearticles@gmail.com and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave St or on 4922 2400.



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