Every year scams cost Australians millions of dollars. It is crucial that you remain alert so that you are not the target of a scam. In 2019 alone, there were over 353,000 reports of scams. In this blog, recent trends in scam activity and methods to protect yourself from being scammed are outlined.
Business email scams accounted for the highest financial losses in 2019, costing businesses $132 million according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report. A common technique scammers use is to intercept legitimate invoices and change the payment details so that the recipient will not realise that they have been scammed.
Scammers may also impersonate staff to request the transfer of funds for purchasing gifts for other colleagues or for other business related expenses.
It is essential for businesses and staff to remain alert and to familiarise themselves with common scams they may encounter. Some businesses may wish to encourage payment confirmations, where consumers speak to someone from the business to confirm that the bank account details they have are correct before making any payments.
Consumer scams succeed because they mimic genuine deals and catch consumers off-guard. By taking advantage of new technology, new products or services and major events to create believable stories, it is simpler for scammers to target their audience and capture their money or personal details. Scamwatch has received over 2,000 reports about COVID-19 scams and reported losses of more than $700,000.
Scammers set up fake websites, ads on trusted platforms and false social media accounts in the guise of selling real products. They often ask for upfront payments or an initial deposit, plus additional costs such as administration or transportation. Consumers should not click on any foreign links, make any upfront payments if they have not verified the business, and should be wary of any deals that look ‘too good to be true’.
How to Protect Yourself from Being Scammed
Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels.
The best way to combat online fraud is to stay one step ahead of scammers by learning how to protect yourself. Here are some tips from Scamwatch to help you remain alert:
- Be alert to the fact that scams exist. Know with who you are dealing.
- Do not open suspicious tests, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails.
- Keep your personal details secure.
- Choose your passwords carefully.
- Requests for personal details or money should be red flags.
- In particular, be alert to law enforcement scams.
Unfortunately, scams are becoming more sophisticated and are often very difficult to trace, so in most cases, the money can never be retrieved. For further assistance on any matter relating to scams or competition and consumer law, please contact one of our experienced solicitors on 02 9963 9800 or via our contact form here.