How to spot a scam: Scam Awareness Week 2022

Money recovery scam

With Australians losing more money to scammers every year, Scam Awareness Week aims to help people spot a scam and keep themselves safe online.

Scammers clearly have their sights set on Australia, with combined losses of more than $2 billion reported last year to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch initiative, as well as the government and the financial sector.

This year, combined losses might reach $4 billion. Scamwatch received more than 166,000 reports between January and September this year, revealing a 90 per cent increase in losses over the same period last year.

Scams Awareness Week aims to alert Australians to the risk of being scammed and teach them how to look for red flags that something is wrong, says ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

“We know scammers are relentlessly targeting Australians,” Rickard says. “With millions of Australians more vulnerable to scams following the recent spate of large-scale data breaches, there has never been a more important time to know the tell-tale signs of a scammer.”

Research commissioned by the ACCC shows that 96 per cent of the population was exposed to a scam in the five years to 2021. Half of the survey’s respondents were contacted weekly or daily by scammers, a figure expected to rise given current cybersecurity concerns.

Scam Awareness Week: spotting scams

Scamwatch’s advice when it comes to spotting scams is; Stop, Think, Protect.

Stop: think carefully before handing over money or personal information to anyone, including passwords, PINs and bank or credit card details. Scammers can pretend to be from organisations that you know and trust, such as police, government, businesses you deal with or even fraud investigators.

Think: ask yourself, could the message or call be fake? Never click on a link or open an attachment in an unexpected email or text message, regardless of whom it claims to come from.

Only contact businesses or government using contact information from their official website or through their secure apps. If in doubt, ask a trusted friend or family member what they would do.

Protect: act quickly if something feels wrong. Contact your bank immediately if you suspect you’ve been scammed, lost money or personal information, or if you notice unusual activity on your cards or accounts. 

Enabling two-factor authentication is another way to add an extra layer of security to sensitive data and accounts, such as online banking. It double-checks your identity by sending a special code sent to your mobile phone, to make it more difficult for scammers to break into your accounts.

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