Scam Awareness Week 2018

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Did you know this week is Scam Awareness Week? ACCC Scam Awareness Week, focusing on: “Stop and check: is this for real?”

In light of the commencement of Scam Awareness Week earlier this week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) has released the ninth annual Targeting Scams Report which shows the extent of the losses the Australian public has endured at the hands of scammers. A copy of the full report can be found here.


The report states that annual losses of the Australian public in 2017 totalled an astonishing $340 million, surpassing last year’s figure by $40 million, with the average victim losing $6500 per scam. This figure, terrifying enough, ranks investment scams as causing the greatest loss to consumers (with a figure of over $64 million), and dating and romance scams a close second (with a combined figure of over $42 million).


The increasingly complex and aggressive techniques scammers are employing to obtain personal information, is becoming a frightening and very real issue in today’s modern day and age, with over 33,000 reports being received by Scamwatch in the last year. The report also details that the most common forms of reported scams in 2017 were phishing, identity theft and false billing scams.  


In light of the ever-evolving technology world, of particular interest is the loss caused to Australian businesses as a result of scammer’s hacking business emails accounts and IT systems. Following a successful hacking, the scammers observe communications between businesses, customers, and associated financial transactions, and wait for the most appropriate time to act, by sending an email from the hacked account with “new bank account details” for payment.  Coutts reminds its clients of the importance to have strong internal systems and processes in place to verify payments to third parties, in order to avoid this unfortunate situation.


In the spirit of Scam Awareness Week, the ACCC is urging people to “Stop and check: is this for real?” before giving out personal information. In addition, the ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard reminds consumers to remember the following, when receiving a threatening phone call that doesn’t feel right:


1.        “The ATO will never threaten immediate arrest”;
2.        “Telstra will not ask to access your computer”; and
3.        “Centrelink will never require a fee to pay money owing.”


Australian consumer law contains a number of protections which can be engaged when individuals, or businesses, fall victim to a scam. These protections can be found in the law surrounding misleading or deceptive conduct, harassment, and door-to-door sales.


If you’ve been put in a situation where something doesn’t feel right, visit  www.scamwatch.gov.au to report and view current reported scams.

 

For further information contact:

Allyce Silm
Lawyer
allyce@couttslegal.com.au
02 4607 2119

 

Daniel St George
Senior Associate
daniel@couttslegal.com.au
02 9220 1760