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$236m lost so far this year: Scams Awareness Week 2021

Scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated, using technology to make their scams even harder to detect, says ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard, launching Scams Awareness Week (8-12 November) under the theme ‘Let’s talk scams.’

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More than 350 partners across government, private and community organisations have joined the fight against scams in this year’s national Scams Awareness Week, which aims to encourage open and honest conversations about scams to help people detect, prevent and avoid scams.

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    "It can happen to anyone":
 Delia Rickard, ACCC dep. chair
   

“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,” 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.”

So far this year, Australians have already lost over $236 million to scams. 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).

There have been a wide variety of scams in 2021 so far. Scammers continued 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 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.

“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,” said Rickard. “But your experience can help warn others to be even more careful. 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.”

There have been 242,000 reports to Scamwatch from 1 January to 17 October 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).

If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

If you have lost personal information to a scammer and are concerned, you can contact idcare.

You can also report a scam to Scamwatch. 

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Scams Awareness Week is a national campaign by the Scams Awareness Network, a group of Australian and New Zealand government agencies with responsibility for consumer protection and policing in scams, cyber safety and fraud.