Major bank urges Aussies to remain vigilant for scam activity during the festive season

Dec 20, 2022
Previous reports from the ACCC have indicated that people aged 65 and over have often reported the highest losses to scams, with losses increasing with age. Source: Getty Images.

As Christmas Day fast approaches and excitement for the big day grows, Aussies are being warned to remain vigilant for scam activity as scammers take advantage of the busy nature of the festive season.

ANZ has encouraged customers to be on the lookout for malicious activity after discovering a 22 per cent increase in scam-related activity this year.

Scams are commonly delivered to potential victims via phone call, text and email with over 90 per cent of cyber attacks reported to begin as a phishing email.

ANZ Head of Customer Protection, Shaq Johnson said the “busy time of year can leave Australians more susceptible to scams and cyber-attacks”.

“Individuals, organisations and businesses are often distracted by holidays, shopping and other end of year events,” Johnson said.

“As people prepare for the festive season, it’s important to be cyber safe and cyber resilient. Ensure cyber resiliency plans are up to date and encourage conversations with friends and loved ones – perhaps around the Christmas table – about the evolving scams and cyber environment.”

ANZ’s warning following similar calls for vigilance from Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones in regard to an increase in scam activity around the holidays.

“The Christmas shopping rush is a major opportunity for scammers looking to catch the unwary,” he said in a statement.

“It’s also a time when they exploit our elderly and other vulnerable groups who may be experiencing loneliness.

“So called phishing scams, which allow scammers to remotely take over phones and personal computers, are the biggest risk at this time of year.

“Australians should also be on the lookout for impersonation scams, where scammers pose as a legitimate business or family member.”

Scams are already having a detrimental impact across the country and with total losses to scams expected to reach an estimated $4 billion by the end of 2022 in addition to the recent widespread data breaches that have impacted millions across the country, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Deputy Chair Delia Rickard recently stressed that, “there has never been a more important time to know the tell-tale signs of a scammer”.

“We know scammers are relentlessly targeting Australians. 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 cyber security concerns,” Rickard said.

“Scammers evolve quickly, and their tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated and unscrupulous. There have been hundreds of reports to Scamwatch in the weeks after the recent high-profile data breaches and that is expected to continue.”

The recent warnings will be of particular benefit for older Australians who are often hit especially hard by scam activity. Previous reports from the ACCC have indicated that people aged 65 and over have often reported the highest losses to scams, with losses increasing with age.

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