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Australians have lost more than $77 million to scammers in the first half of 2020.1 Find out how to stay safe from scams.
More than 80,700 reports of scams have been reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network and other state and territory government agencies in Australia in the six months to the end of June 2020.1
The losses and scam rates compare to a total of more than $142.87 million lost and 167,801 scams reported in 2019.
Of the 2020 reported scams, 13.5% have resulted in financial losses, with investment scams costing victims the most, while phishing and online shopping scams were the most common.
The ACCC has urged people to be aware of scams by identifying when you are being set up. Signs to look out for include behaviours designed to extract information from you or your trust.
The ACCC warned that scammers:
Source: ACCC, Scamwatch, Spot the scam signs
The most common scams reported in the six months to the end of June 2020 were phishing scams, where scammers trick victims into giving out personal information.
Online shopping scams and identity theft scams rounded out the top three most common scams of 2020.
Investment scams and dating and romance scams were the most financially damaging scams, with scammers increasingly using technology, including social media, to access potential victims.
Investment scam losses amounted to more than $30.4 million in the six months to June 2020.
Combined losses for dating and romance scams in the first half of 2020 were more than $19.7 million.
Source: ACCC, Scamwatch, 2020 scam statistics
Over 65s both lost the most to scammers and reported the most scams to authorities, the figures for 2020 showed. Scams cost people aged 65 and over more than $18.4 million.
In a change on previous years, women lost more money than men to scams in the first half of 2020.
Women had lost a combined total of more than $40.3 million in six months, the figures showed.
Women also made more reports of scam behaviour than men, logging in 40,477 scam reports.
Scamwatch has received more than 3,400 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus causing reported losses of more than $1.7 million since the outbreak of coronavirus.2
Common scams included phishing for personal information, online shopping, and superannuation scams.
In April 2020, the Australian Government issued a scam warning, urging people to be vigilant against scammers targeting those financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scamwatch said scammers may be hoping that you had let your guard down during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Do not provide your personal, banking or superannuation details to strangers who have approached you. Scammers may pretend to have a connection with you. So it’s important to stop and check, even when you are approached by what you think is a trusted organisation,” the ACCC warned on its Scamwatch website.3
Scammers pretend to be government agencies providing information on COVID-19 through text messages and emails ‘phishing’ for your information. The messages contain malicious links and attachments designed to steal your personal and financial information.
Scammers pretend to be from real businesses such as banks, travel agents, insurance providers and telco companies and use various excuses around COVID-19 to ask for your personal and financial information, lure you into opening malicious links or attachments, gain remote access to your computer, or seek payment for a fake service or something you did not purchase.
Scammers take advantage of people in financial hardship due to COVID-19 by attempting to steal superannuation or by offering unnecessary services and charging a fee. The majority of these scams start with an unexpected call claiming to be from a superannuation or financial service and use a variety of excuses to request information about your superannuation accounts.
Scammers try to take advantage of the Australia Government’s early-access to superannuation measures through phishing scams designed to steal your superannuation.
Scammers create fake online stores claiming to sell products that don’t exist such as cures or vaccinations for COVID-19 as well as products such as face masks.
Source: ACCC, Scamwatch, Current COVID-19 scams
If you think you are being targeted by a scam, here’s where to get help.
The opinions expressed are the ACCC’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the QSuper Board. No responsibility is taken for the accuracy of any of the information supplied and you should seek advice for your circumstances.
1. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Scamwatch, Scam statistics 2020, accessed 16 July 2020 at scamwatch.gov.au
2. Media release, ACCC, 14 July 2020, Current COVID scams, at scamwatch.gov.au
3. Media Release, ACCC, 6 April 2020, Scammers targeting superannuation in COVID-19 crisis at accc.gov.au
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