Scams cost Australians $630 million

What you need to look out for to avoid scammers.

Australians lost more than $634 million to scams in 2019, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed.

There were more than 353,000 combined reports to ACCC’s Scamwatch, other government agencies and the big four banks last year.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said scams were constantly evolving.

“Unfortunately, it is another year with devastatingly high losses, and scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians,” Ms Rickard said.

“Over the last decade, scammers have taken advantage of new technologies and current scams are using social media apps and new payment methods.

Investment scams were the most lucrative for scammers, with more than $61.8 million in losses reported to Scamwatch, followed by romance and dating scams with $28.6 million in losses. 

WARNING ON COMMON CAR-SELLING SCAMS

“A new trend with dating and romance scams is scammers contacting the victim onsocial media apps or games which are not designed for dating, so it’s important to be aware that scammers can target you anywhere,” Ms Rickard said.

“Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated.”

Common techniques that scammers use to manipulate their victims include making exclusive offers or asking for small commitments, such as completing a survey, to make you more likely to comply with larger schemes.

“You can always say no, hang up the phone or delete an email, even if you’ve said yes previously. You don’t owe the scammer anything,” Ms Rickard said.

If you think you have been scammed, report it your bank as soon as possible and the platform that the scammer contacted you on.

Protect yourself from scams

  • Never send money or give your personal details to someone you have met online.
  • A government agency or trusted company will never ask you to pay by unusual methods such as gift cards, wire transfer or Bitcoin.
  • Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails.
  • Don't respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access – hang up.
  • Choose your passwords carefully.
  • Review your privacy and security settings on social media.

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice and does not take into account any person's particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situations and needs.