The ACCC’s Targeting Scams Report revealed investment scams caused the most financial loss, which accounted for at least $1.5 billion.
This was followed by:
- Remote access scams - $229 million
- Payment redirection scams - $224 million
- Romance scams - $210 million
- Phishing scams - $157 million
- Other - $784 million
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said the huge loss in 2022 was partly due to scammers using new technology to lure and deceive victims.
“Scammers evolve quickly and unfortunately, many Australians are losing their life savings,” Ms Lowe said.
“We have seen alarming new tactics emerge which make scams incredibly difficult to detect.
“This includes everything from impersonating official phone numbers, email addresses and websites of legitimate organisations to scam texts that appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages.
“This means now more than ever, anyone can fall victim to a scam.”
As scams became more sophisticated, the money lost has increased with the average reported losses on Scamwatch hitting almost $20,000, up 54% from $12,742 in 2021.
The top contact methods for scams in 2022 were:
- Text message - 33%
- Phone - 29%
- Email - 22%
- Internet - 6%
- Social networking - 6%
According to Scamwatch, 30% of victims do not report scams implying the real amount lost was likely to be far higher than $3.1 billion.
Who was more likely to fall for a scam?
In 2022, people with a disability reported financial losses of $33.7 million, a 71% increase compared to 2021.
People from culturally and linguistically diverse communities made 11,418 scam reports which resulted in losses of $56 million, up 36% from last year.
Indigenous Australians also reported losses of $5.1 million.
The median loss for Indigenous Australian scam victims rose to $754, from $650 reported in 2021.
Ms Lowe said she was concerned people with a disability and those from migrant backgrounds were disproportionately impacted by scams.
“Our report shows that people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities were significantly over-represented in terms of financial losses across a range of scam-types, accounting for more than one quarter (27.9%) of total losses associated with identity theft and about a third (32.7%) of all losses to pyramid schemes,” she said.
“This is a worrying trend that urgently needs to be addressed by both government and industry with input from consumer advocacy groups.”
ACCC calls for a united front
The ACCC continues to advocate for a three-pronged approach to tackling scams.
“First, we need to stop scammers reaching consumers by disrupting phone calls, SMS, email, social media messaging or other ways in which scammers contact would-be victims,” Ms Lowe said.
“Second, we need to make sure consumers are supported with up-to-date information so they have the best chance of spotting a scammer when contacted.
“Finally, we need effective measures in place to prevent funds being transferred to scammers.”
Ms Lowe also recommended Australian banks introduce uniform measures across the sector, similar to the UK’s Confirmation of Payee method, which matches an account number to the intended recipient across all banks.
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