Australians lost more money to scammers in 2017 than in any other year since the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began reporting on scam activity.
It’s a sad truth that there are still far too many people who lose their hard earned money to either dubious financial strategies, or financial scams and confidence tricksters.
This happens despite the best endeavours of Government watchdog agencies and increasing financial literacy amongst the investing public.
According to a recent report by the ACCC, Investment scams topped the losses at $64 million, an increase of more than 8 per cent. Dating and romance scams caused the second greatest losses at $42 million.
“It’s very worrying that Australians are losing such extraordinary amounts to scammers. Based on just the reports provided to the ACCC, victims are losing an average of $6500. In some cases people have lost more than $1 million,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Some scams are becoming very sophisticated and hard to spot. Scammers use modern technology like social media to contact and deceive their victims. In the past few years, reports indicate scammers are using aggressive techniques both over the phone and online.”
Scamwatch received almost 33,000 reports of these threat-based impersonation scams in 2017. Over $4.7 million was reported lost and more than 2800 people gave their personal information to these scammers.
“These scams can be very frightening. For example, scammers will impersonate the Australian Taxation Office and threaten people with immediate arrest unless they pay an outstanding tax bill. They may pretend to be from Telstra to try to hack into your computer or from Centrelink promising extra payments in return for a ‘fee’.” Ms Rickard said.
“If something doesn’t feel right, hang up the phone or hit delete. If the person said they were, for example, from Telstra or the ATO, find the phone number for that organisation online or in the phone book, call them and let them know about the call you received. They’ll let you know if it’s genuine or a scam.”
The ACCC encourages people to visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to report scams so we can warn others about them and learn more about what to do if they’re targeted by scams.
It’s your money, remain on alert and remember your Grandparent’s warning that if something seems too good to be true, then it usually is.