Australians lost $851million to scams last year alone – here is how to avoid being duped
- Investment and romance scams had the biggest losses from Australians
- More Australians were scammed last year than in 2019 from being online more
- It’s estimated that already more than $7million has been lost to scams this year
Australians have been scammed a total of $851million in the last year alone as the Covid-19 pandemic forced many to stay at home and spend longer online.
The alarming figures were revealed in a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with investment scams being the worst of all with a total of $328million lost.
Australians who found themselves ‘catfished’ or involved in other romance scams also lost a staggering $131million all up.
Australians have been scammed a total of $851million in the last year alone as the Covid-19 pandemic forced many to stay at home and spend longer online (stock image)
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said she expected the total amount of money lost to scams would be even worse than what’s been calculated because most victims don’t report it.
‘Unfortunately scammers continue to become more sophisticated and last year used the Covid-19 pandemic to scam and take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis,’ she said.
Out of the $850million lost, victims reported just $176million of this to Scamwatch.
Victoria which saw a mammoth 122-day lockdown last year suffered losses of $49million – double what the state lost in 2019.
‘We saw scammers claiming the government restrictions meant people could not see items in person before purchase. This was a common ruse in vehicle sale and puppy scams, which both had higher reports and losses,’ Ms Rickard said.
Fake SMS messages warned innocent Australians that a possible coronavirus case had been detected in their neighbourhood last year (pictured)
Phishing also peaked during the pandemic with more than 44,000 scams reported last year.
A recent survey by Finder of 1,066 Australians found that 47 per cent received a fraudulent message either via text or on the phone within the last 12 months.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST SCAMS
Don’t click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source.
Go directly to the website through your browser. For example, to reach the MyGov website type ‘my.gov.au’ into your browser yourself.
Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details, even if they claim to be a from a reputable organisation or government authority – just press delete or hang up.
The total amount of money lost to scams in Australia jumped by 23 per cent from 2019 to 2020.
Finder personal finance expert Kate Browne said a big problem was that only a third of victims were reporting the crimes.
‘There was a surge in scammers impersonating government officials contacting people about financial benefit schemes,’ she said.
‘There was also a burst of superannuation scams after it was announced that Australians experiencing financial hardship could have early access to super.’
Thove above the age of 65 are more likely to get scammed according to the statistics and just under half of those who lost money last year did so through phone calls.
Another 22 per cent of scams were from fraudulent emails and 15 per cent were over texts.
Ms Brown has warned Australians not to click on anything that looks suspicious.
People are also urged to regularly check their bank account history to see if any unknown transactions were being made.
It’s estimated more than $7million has already been scammed from Australians this year through frauds accessing home computers.
Australians who found themselves ‘catfished’ or involved in other romance scams also lost a staggering $131million all up (stock image)