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Monday, 08 November 2021 11:20

Fight against scams draws strong support from government, private & community organisations Featured

By Staff Writer

Let’s talk scams” is the theme adopted by more than 350 partners across government, private and community organisations who have joined the fight against scams in this year’s national Scams Awareness Week.

Scam Awareness Week opened on Monday (8 November) and will run until 12 November with the aim of the campaign by the ACCC and iits 350 parters of encouraging open and honest conversations about scams to help people detect, prevent, and avoid scams.

“The more we talk about scams, the more awareness we have, and the harder it is for scammers to steal our money or personal information,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about being scammed, because it can happen to anyone, but sharing your experiences with others can help disrupt and prevent scams.

“Scams can affect anyone, and data from the reports we receive at Scamwatch shows how easy it is to fall for a scam,” Rickard said.

The ACCC reports that so far this year, Australians have already lost over $236 million to scams and, while people aged 65 and older still have the highest losses (15.6 per cent) and are losing the most money, an increasing number of reports are coming from younger age groups.

People aged 35 to 44 had the second highest number of reports (15.3 per cent), followed by people aged 25 to 34 (14.4 per cent), which the ACCC says shows scams can impact people of all ages.

According to the ACCC there have been a wide variety of scams in 2021 so far, with scammers continuing to impersonate government agencies, such as the Australian Border Force.

In one scam, scammers pretending to be from the Australian Taxation Office claimed people would receive tax refunds but needed to update their personal and financial details.

The ACCC cautions that the emergence of the flubot malware scam, and the way it continued to evolve into different variants throughout the year shows how quickly scammers can adapt their scams.

“Scams are becoming more and more sophisticated, using technology to make their scams even harder to detect,” Rickard said.

“Scammers adapt and in a moment of inattention, it is unfortunately all too easy for even the most careful person to click on a message or fall for another type of scam. But your experience can help warn others to be even more careful.

“This Scams Awareness Week, I want to encourage everyone to have a conversation about scams. Talk to people around you, your friends, family, and colleagues. The more we all know about them and how to avoid them, the less likely scammers will succeed,” Rickard concluded.

The ACCC says that if anyone thinks they have been scammed they should contact their bank or financial institution immediately and if you have lost personal information to a scammer and are concerned, you can contact IDCARE(link is external).

And you can also report a scam to Scamwatch, follow on Twitter(link is external) or subscribe to radar alerts.

The ACCC has released statistics which reveal the full extent of scam activity in Australia in the 10 months between the start of January and 17 October this year:

Statistics – 1 January to 17 October

  • There have been 242,000 reports to Scamwatch this year, up 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.
  • Losses have increased by 87 per cent to $236 million.
  • Scams originating over the phone have increased by 74 per cent to almost to 126,000 reports.
  • The highest losses have been reported for investment scams (up 160 per cent to $121 million); dating and romance scams ($39 million); false billing scams ($13 million) and remote access scams ($12 million).
  • Top scams reported are phishing (59,491); threat-based scams (35,351) and identity theft (19,154).

Indigenous consumers made 3,256 reports with over $3.7 million in losses.

  • Phishing scams: 546 reports and $1.1 million in losses
  • Investment scams: 1.22 million in losses from 111 reports.

Consumers with a CALD background made 9,468 reports to Scamwatch with over $28.5 million in losses.

  • Phishing scams: 1,651 reports and $1.2 million in losses
  • Investment scams: $11.7 million in losses from 592 reports.

Consumers with disability made 9,477 reports to Scamwatch with almost $14 million in losses.

  • Phishing scams: 1,922 reports and $102,181 losses
  • Investment scams: $5.25 million in losses from 356 reports

“We know that talking about scams can help prevent them, so we’re encouraging you to talk to your friends, colleagues and family members about your experiences with scams,” the telecommunications industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) says.

“Scams Awareness Week is a timely reminder that scammers target everyone and no-one is too smart to be scammed. Australians need to be alert to the threat of phone scams, protect their personal information and report scams to Scamwatch.

‘The ACMA is a proud supporter of Scams Awareness Week, a national campaign for Australian government agencies and businesses to work together to raise public awareness about scams,” the ACMA noted.

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