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Australians lost more than $176 million to scammers in 20201. Find out how to stay safe from scams.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch has warned scammers continue to use the spread of COVID-19 to take advantage of people across Australia.
Scamwatch received over 5,170 scam reports mentioning coronavirus in 2020, with more than $6.2 million in reported losses since the outbreak of the pandemic.
However, investment scams were the worst overall for the amount of money Australians lost in 2020, costing them more than $66.4 million. Dating and romance scams were also costly taking $37.2 million from Australians.
December was the worst month for losses from scams, with Australians losing more than $22 million in a single month.
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
People over the age of 65 lost the most to scammers in 2020, suffering more than $37.6 million in losses.
People aged 25 to 34 reported the most scams, followed by people aged 35 to 44.
Women reported more scams to authorities, but men lost more money to scammers than women.
Men lost more than $87.9 million, just above women who lost $87.7 million to scammers.
The ACCC said since March 2020, scammers had been sending emails or texts impersonating the World Health Organisation or government agencies that could contain malicious links and attachments designed to steal personal and financial information.
Other scams to watch out for included scammers attempting to steal superannuation during the pandemic by offering unnecessary services and charging a fee.
Scammers may also create fake online stores claiming to sell products that don’t exist, such as cures for COVID-19 as well as products including vaccinations or face masks.
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 tried 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. Figures sourced from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Scamwatch, Scam Statistics
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