Hackers steal young woman's identity, drain bank account

A TOOWOOMBA woman is urging members of the community to be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping their identities safe after her bank account was emptied by scammers.

The woman, who did not wish to be identified after being a victim of fraud, said scammers "ported out" her phone number from Telstra - without her knowledge or consent - and took it to Optus, where she alleges only minimal information was required to prove they were her to set up a new prepaid account.

They then used her mobile number to reset the password on her online banking account. By the time she'd realised she was a victim of identity theft, scammers had taken $6000.

She immediately contacted her bank to notify them of the fraudulent activity and requested her accounts to be frozen.

She was assured the "hackers" would no longer be able to access her accounts, however received an email at 2am confirming the daily payment limit on her account had been increased.

"When I contacted (the bank) again, I was told by accounts had not been frozen and my account was now completely empty," she said.

"I was absolutely devastated that not only was my money gone, but my bank failed to freeze my accounts when I reported the hacking," she said.

While that was going on, she'd contacted Telstra and asked them to block or suspend her number to stop the hackers accessing her personal information.

"They constantly told me I had requested to take my number to another telco," she said.

"Even when I let them know I was the victim of a scam and my mobile number and all my money was stolen, they couldn't do anything.

"This scam is increasingly common with Telstra customers, yet not one person at Telstra suggested it was a scam and to check my accounts immediately.

"If they had, I could have secured my accounts and contacted (the bank's) fraud department before they closed at 8pm.

"Telstra need to educate their staff and train them to be able to assist victims of this scam."

The 25-year-old woman said she never thought something like this would happen to her.

"I am very careful with personal details and I am regularly changing passwords," she said.

"I don't open emails or attachments from people I don't know, not even Nigerian princes promising millions of dollars.

"My phone bills and bank statements have always been emailed so there was no risk that my mail was stolen. I don't even have my full name on my Facebook account and don't post my mobile number or email on my profile.

"I now have a Telstra account set up that I can only access or change my account if I visit a store and give them a password face-to-face.

"Please take the time to make your bank accounts, phone accounts more secure."

Telstra area general manager Darren Clark said Telstra took the security and safety of its customers and their personal information very seriously.

"Any activity that leaves a customer feeling vulnerable or exposed is not acceptable and we apologise for the distress this has caused," he said.

"Illegal porting activity is an issue that is affecting the telco industry as a whole.

"We think there are opportunities to further strengthen the porting process and are committed to working with the industry and regulatory agencies to find a solution that can better protect customers from fraudulent activity."  


  • Use a spam filter to help block unsolicited and unwanted email.
  • Ensure you have a strong password online and separate passwords for every account
  • Set your privacy settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing where they are available.
  • If you're not sure that the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate, then hang up and call the organisation by using their official contact details.
  • Don't share personal, credit card or banking details over the phone, unless you've made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
  • Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus software.
  •  If your alarm bells are ringing or you think something's not quite right, just hang up.
  • Beware of unsolicited requests for sensitive information - don't click on embedded links in emails or sites you don't know or trust. If in doubt, visit trusted websites by typing the internet address directly into the browser address bar, rather than clicking on a link embedded in an email.
  •  Never respond to requests for personal information in an unexpected email or pop-up window.
  • If in doubt, always contact the company that claims to be the sender of the email or pop-up window, using their official contact details.

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