Year on year we continue to see record levels of scam activity in Australia. Last year $1.8 billion in losses were reported to Scamwatch, ReportCyber, 12 financial organisations and other government agencies.
When we consider the fact that around one third of scam victims don’t report to anyone, it is clear that the real loss figure is well over $2 billion. We also know that the true cost of scams is far more than just financial – it leads to emotional stress and can have life changing consequences for many individuals, families, and businesses.
According to the Scamwatch report released in July 2022, the largest combined losses in 2021 were:
• $701 million lost to investment scams
• $227 million lost to payment redirection scams
• $142 million lost to romance scams
On top of the usual scams reported including phishing & identity theft, threats to life or arrest, false billing, Amazon state that two of the most common online shopping scams currently being used are:
Order Confirmation Scams
These are unexpected calls/texts/emails that often refer to an unauthorised purchase and ask you to act urgently to confirm or cancel the purchase. These scammers try to convince you to provide payment or bank account information, install software to your computer/device, or purchase gift cards. If you’re unsure never verify through this process, always go direct to the source.
Tech Support Scams
Scammers create fake websites claiming to provide tech support for your devices and or services. If you do need tech support, always use the original source website and seek support that way. If you use a search engine, use caution and make sure you’re using a legitimate website by checking the URL before you click on any results.
The following signs are indications you may not be safe online;
• You are unable to log in to your computer or mobile device, or your email, social media and other online accounts.
• You notice new icons on your computer screen, or your computer is not as fast as it normally is.
• Files on your computer have been moved or deleted.
• Pop-up boxes start appearing on your computer screen. These may offer to help ‘fix’ your computer, or a simply have a button that says ‘close’.
• You have an unexpectedly large phone data or internet bill.
• You notice that amounts of money go missing from your bank account without any explanation.
• You suspect that your mobile phone number has been ported without your consent, after you notice that your phone is showing ‘SOS only’ where the reception bars usually appear.
Identifying Scams and Staying Safe
1. Trust first party channels – always go through the original app or website when seeking customer service, tech support, or looking to make changes to your account.
2. Be wary of false urgency. Scammers may try to create a sense of urgency to persuade you to do what they’re asking. Be wary any time someone tries to convince you that you must act now.
3. Never pay over the phone. Most companies will never ask you to provide payment information, including gift cards (or “verification cards”, as some scammers call them) for products or services over the phone.
According to a report released by Scamwatch, “Scams have sadly continued to cause harm to people in all sections of the community. Worryingly, some of the more vulnerable members of the community are reporting increasingly high losses. Indigenous Australians, older Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with disability are losing far more than ever before. As a community we need to focus more effort on disrupting & preventing scams both by stopping scammers connecting with potential victims in the first place as well as stopping money reaching scammers”.