This year’s Scams Awareness Week coincides with the release of the 2017 annual targeting scams report, which reveals a $40 million increase in money lost to scammers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report has re-enforced the importance of National Scams Awareness Week which started on May 21 and finishes on May 25.
The event is aimed at making Australians aware of threat-based impersonation scams.
Investment scams represented the biggest loss at $64 million – an 8 per-cent increase from 2016 – followed by dating and romance scams, which caused a loss of $42 million.
The ACCC reported scammers often pretended to work for government agencies, phone companies, the bank or police, and used threats to intimidate victims into handing over personal details and money.
Such threats included fining them, disconnecting their internet, taking legal action against them, having them arrested or having them deported.
Curtin University internet studies associate professor Tama Leaver said scams were becoming more sophisticated.
“I know at Curtin, for example, there were some Chinese students that were falling prey to a particularly sophisticated scam which was suggesting their visa status was being reviewed and that they needed to do certain things to prove that they were [legitimate],” he said.
“And after providing that information then, unfortunately, that left them open to identity theft.”
Dr Leaver said one way to verify whether calls were legitimate was to verify the claims through another party, such as a government department.
“Also getting them to leave you a number and say, ‘I’ll check my details and call you back’, rather that just responding there and then, can be very important,” Dr Leaver said.
“In legitimate cases, no one is going to say, ‘you have to provide all of your information now’ because you can’t guarantee you would have it on you.”
For more information about National Scams Week 2018 and tips on how to protect yourself, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au