Scams cost Australians $634 million last year
Total losses from scams in Australia are doubling year-on-year
Australians lost more than half a billion dollars to scammers in 2019, according to the latest figures in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams report released last week.
Total reported losses exceeded $634 million. That’s $141 million more than 2018 and $290 million more than in 2017. The total scam losses are near doubling year-on-year.
Business email compromise scams accounted for the highest losses in 2019, with the Australian business community, and some individuals losing $132 million. This was followed by investment scams at $126 million, and dating and romance scams at $83 million.
Scamwatch has received over 3,060 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with over $1.37 million in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping, and superannuation scams.
There were more than 353,000 combined reports to Scamwatch, other government agencies and the big four banks last year.
Phone calls still the most popular method of contact for scammers
The most popular contact method for scammers was via phone calls (41.4%), which was also the most damaging in the reported loss amount at $32.6 million. Internet scams contributed to $31.6 million of losses, whilst only comprising 7% of total scams. Emails were third, comprising 25% of scams at $28.4 million, and lastly Text message at 16.6% and $3.03 million.
“Unfortunately it is another year with devastatingly high losses, and scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“This year we have included data from the big four banks which gives a more complete picture of how much people are losing to scams.”
Scams were previously easier to detect, however modern scammers are adapting old scams to new technology, seeking payment through unusual methods and automating scam calls allowing them to increase their pool of potential victims.
“Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated.”
Based solely on reports provided to the ACCC in 2019, scams originating on social media increased by 20% and contacts via mobile phone apps increased by 29%.
“Over the last decade, scammers have taken advantage of new technologies and current scams are using social media apps and new payment methods that didn’t exist in 2009,” Ms Rickard said.
Common techniques that scammers use to manipulate their victims include making exclusive offers that you don’t want to miss out on, or asking for small commitments, such as completing a survey, to make the victim more likely to comply with larger schemes.
Over 55 reported 38% of scams & lost 41% of total losses in Australia
Those aged between 55 – 64 incurred the most losses in 2019 (23%), whilst those over 65 years reported the most scams (21%). Those between 25 – 34 reported the second most number of scams at 18%, and those aged 45 – 54 were the second highest age group to incur the losses (21%).
Combined, those 55 years and over contributed to 38% of all reported scams in 2019 and incurred 41% ($260 million) of all total losses.
“You can always say no, hang up the phone or delete an email, even if you’ve said yes previously. You don’t owe the scammer anything,” Ms Rickard said.
If you think have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed.
Read related articles to scams:
- The 3 most common types of investment scams
- Protect yourself against phone scams from fake ‘Telstra technicians’
- Scammers exploiting Coronavirus to target online users
- 8 tips to avoid falling victim to cybercrime
- Tricks to help you identify potential email scam attacks
- Investment, dating, crypto scams rip off millions
- How to check suspicious email links on your mobile or tablet
- Australia’s 3 biggest cyber threats that target over 60s
– Scams cost Australians over $630 million. Scamwatch. Released 22 June 2020. Read article
– Current COVID-19 (coronavirus) scams. Scamwatch. Released 22 June 2020. Read article
– ACCC Targeting Scams Report infographic. View image
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