As more and more people fall victim to scams, Australians are being encouraged to learn new ways to identify scams.
This week is Scams Awareness Week, hosted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Scams Awareness Network, which aims to empower people to avoid the risk of being scammed and know how to spot red flags.
Increase in scams
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in a statement that scammers are “relentlessly targeting Australians”.
“With millions of Australians more vulnerable to scams following the recent spate of large-scale data breaches, there has never been a more important time to know the tell-tale signs of a scammer.”
“…there has never been a more important time to know the tell-tale signs of a scammer,” – Delia Rickard, ACCC Deputy Chair
The ACCC’s Scamwatch received more than 166,000 reports between January and September this year, with more than $425.8 million in total losses.
The top three most reported scams were phishing (50,015 reports), false-billing (16,263 reports) and online shopping scams (13,068 reports).
People lost the most amount of money through investment scams ($292.9 million), dating and romance scams ($29 million) and remote-access scams ($18.7 million).
Most scammers used the phone to contact people, with 51,234 reports, followed by SMS (50,947 reports) and email (33,287 reports).
The top three most reported scams were phishing, false-billing and online shopping scams.
How to spot a scam
According to the ACCC, a good way to avoid scams is to stop, think and protect.
Stop, think and protect.
Stop giving out your money and personal information to anyone, take your time to think it through first.
“Scammers will offer to help you or ask you to verify who you are, they will pretend to be from organisations you know and trust,” the ACCC said in a statement.
Think about the message and the phone call and ask yourself if it could be fake.
“Never click a link in a message… only contact businesses or government using contact information from their official website or through their secure apps; if you’re not sure say ‘no’, hang up or delete.”
Protect yourself by making sure your accounts are as safe as your home and act quickly if something feels wrong, the ACCC said.
“Contact your bank immediately if you lose money or personal information or if you notice some unusual activity on your cards or accounts.”
“Never click a link in a message… only contact businesses or government using contact information from their official website or through their secure apps; if you’re not sure say ‘no’, hang up or delete,” – ACCC
What to do if you’ve been scammed?
Apart from contacting your bank or financial institution, you could also contact IDCARE if you believe your personal information was given to a scammer, along with reporting cybercrime to the police via ReportCyber, the ACCC said.
Regardless of whether or not a person has lost money or given out personal information, Australians are encouraged to report all scams to Scamwatch.
As part of the national scam prevention campaign, the ACCC is rolling out a series of short educational videos on its YouTube channel.
“While there is a great deal of work underway to disrupt scammers, our best defence against these types of scams is education. We want Australians to know what to look for, so they don’t get caught out,” Ms Rickard said.