Australians are being urged to remain extra vigilant following a reported loss of $211 million this year to scams, according to the latest data from Scamwatch.
People aged 65 years and older have been hit the hardest in 2021, losing $49.1 million and accounting for 23 per cent of the total losses for the year.
The losses reported between January 1 and September 19 of this year have already surpassed the $175.6 million reported from 2020.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said personal finances are being accessed in larger amounts.
“It’s very concerning to see these scams evolving and becoming more sophisticated to steal even more money from unsuspecting people,” Ms Rickard said.
“While the proportion of reports involving a financial loss has dropped this year, the people who do lose money are losing bigger amounts.”
Many of the financial losses are from phone based scams which made up over $63.6 million (31 per cent) of the total money fleeced from Australians.
Scammers call or text people claiming to be from well known businesses in an attempt to steal personal information, a common thread that rose among scammers following Covid – 19 lockdowns.
“Scammers are pretending to be from companies such as Amazon or eBay and claiming large purchases have been made on the victim’s credit card. When they pretend to help you process a refund, they actually gain remote access to your computer and steal your personal and banking details,” Ms Rickard said.
“These scams are particularly concerning in our current climate, as many people are turning to online shopping because of the COVID-19 lockdowns,”
Individuals are being urged to report scams to Scamwatch to ensure all relevant agencies are aware of the scams and action can be taken to prevent them.
ACCC has already taken action against the Flubot scam that circulated earlier this year by raising awareness and sharing alleged scammer phone numbers with telecommunication companies.
Ms Rickard offered some helpful advice to avoid falling victim to potential scams.
“Do not click on any links in messages that come to you out of the blue, and never provide any of your personal or banking details to someone you don’t personally know and trust,” Ms Rickard said.
“If you think something might be legitimate, call the organisation or government agency back using details you find in an independent search, rather than the details provided.”
Anyone who has provided their banking details to a suspected scammer are encouraged to contact their bank or financial institution as soon as possible.