Aussie Consumers Lost Over $200 Million on Scams This Year

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Australians have reported a record $211 million in losses due to scams this year, according to the ACCC’s Scamwatch data analyzing consumer reports between Jan. 1 and Sept. 19.

Financial losses increased nearly 90% compared to losses reported in the entire year of 2020, likely due to the evolution of online and telephone-based scams during the health crisis.

“It’s very concerning to see these scams evolving and becoming more sophisticated to steal even more money from unsuspecting people,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “While the proportion of reports involving a financial loss has dropped this year, the people who do lose money are losing bigger amounts. The average loss so far this year is about $11,000 compared to $7,000 for the same period in 2020.”

Nearly a third of the financial losses ($63.6 million) were inflicted by phone scammers, who managed to steal people’s personal and financial information by impersonating well-known companies or government institutions.

“Scammers are pretending to be from companies such as Amazon or eBay and claiming large purchases have been made on the victim’s credit card. When they pretend to help you process a refund, they actually gain remote access to your computer and steal your personal and banking details,” Ms. Rickard added.

The ACCC attributes significant financial losses to phishing scams and identity theft and urges consumers to file a report whenever they see fraud, even if they didn’t fall for the scam.

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a phone or online scam, stay calm and trace back your steps. Contact the organization or government agency via the official communication channels you find on the official website. If you suspect you’ve given a scammer your banking details, contact your bank immediately, change your password and monitor your financial statements.

Unsolicited emails are also a major concern for internet users across the globe, as they can compromise both sensitive data and devices via malicious links and attachments. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to dismiss any email messages that ask for your data, regardless of how tempting it may be to click on an attachment or receive a prize. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it’s a scam.

Everyone makes mistakes. Even if you do get burned, your future actions can help protect you and your family from additional financial damage. There’s always room to improve your cyber skills to boost online security.

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