The ACCC is warning investors to be wary of scammers after its 9thannual ‘Targeting scams report’ revealed that Investment scams had increased by more than 8 per cent, costing Australians $64 million in 2017.
This week marks Scams Awareness Week 2018 and ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard warns that ‘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,” she said.
Scamwatch is urging people to “Stop and check: is this for real?” if they suspect they are being contacted by a scammer pretending to be from a reputable businesses or government agency.
In 2017 the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and other government agencies received more than 200,000 scam reports totaling losses of $340 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,” Ms Rickard said.
In 2017 alone, more than $4.7 million was reported lost and almost 33,000 reports of threat-based impersonation scams were reported to Scamwatch.
“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 you’re being threatened, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if the call makes sense. The ATO will never threaten you with immediate arrest; Telstra will never need to access your computer to ‘fix’ a problem; and Centrelink will never require a fee to pay money it owes you. Finally, none of these organisations will ask you to pay using iTunes gift cards.”
The ACCC encourages people to report scams towww.scamwatch.gov.au to warn others about them and learn more about what to do if they are targeted by scams. People can also follow @scamwatch_gov(link is external) on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to keep up to date with the latest scams affecting the community.