Scam reports almost double for second consecutive year: Australian consumer regulator launches targeting scams report

Posted in: Legal & Security at 28/03/2012 18:21

[news release] Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims will reveal this evening that scam reports to the ACCC have almost doubled for the second consecutive year.

Mr Sims is launching the ACCC's 2011 Targeting Scams annual report on scams activity at the Grace Hotel in Sydney as part of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce's 'Slam Scams!' campaign.

The report shows that in 2011 the ACCC was contacted more than 83,000 times by consumers and small businesses about scams - almost doubling and more than quadrupling contact levels for 2010 and 2009 respectively.

The increase in contacts was accompanied by a rise in the total number of financial losses resulting from scams with more than $85 million reported - up 35 per cent from 2010.

"These figures are significant, particularly because they represent ordinary people who have been approached by scammers," Mr Sims said.

The report also reveals a significant shift in delivery methods used by perpetrators. Whereas the trend in recent years has been for scams delivered online, in 2011 almost 43,000 - over half of all scams reported - were initiated by telephone. These phone-based scams saw Australians lose almost $28 million.

ACCC deputy chair and Taskforce chair Dr Michael Schaper said "until recent years telephone was considered an old style of scam delivery, but reports suggest that scammers' abuse of recent advancements in voice over internet technology have contributed to this increase."

National Consumer Fraud Week 2012 aims to highlight scam delivery methods and educate Australians to slam scams at the point of contact. This important initiative supports a welcome trend revealed by the report, that public awareness is growing.

"Almost 88 per cent of Australians who contacted the ACCC last year regarding scams reported no financial loss at all," Dr Schaper said.

"That means around nine out of 10 people realised the risk and slammed the scam - they hung up the phone, shut the door, threw out the letter or clicked delete."

"The fact that the majority of Australians contacting the ACCC about scams last year did not fall victim reinforces the importance of educational initiatives such as Fraud Week."

At the event, Mr Sims will also launch a new pocket-sized edition of The Little Black Book of Scams, the ACCC's most popular publication exposing scammers' top tactics. The book complements the ACCC's SCAMwatch website, which in 2011 recorded a 400 per cent increase in hits. Its new Twitter @SCAMwatch_gov account also gained over 2,600 followers.

To order a free copy of the 2011 Targeting Scams report and The Little Black Book of Scams go to or contact 1300 302 502.

The 'Slam Scams!' launch event is open to the media commencing at 4:45pm at the Grace Hotel, 77 York Street Sydney.

The top five types of scams reported to the ACCC in 2011:

Type - Total scams reported to ACCC in 2011 - Per cent of total reports

1. Advance fee/up-front payment scams 30,426 36.6
Example: Scams which ask for up-front payment or personal details in return for a reward down the track. Includes classifieds scams which target both buyers and sellers with offers which seem too good to be true. Scammers posing as representatives from government and business are another example.

2. Computer hacking scams 19,473 23.4
Example: Scammers calling consumers asking for remote access to their computer to run a scan or fix a technical problem. Also social media and email account hacking.

3. Lottery and sweepstake scams 7,863 9.5
Example: Consumers are told they have won money in a lottery they never entered. To claim winnings they are asked to provide an up-front payment and/or personal details.

4. Banking and online account scams (including phishing) 5,430 6.5
Example: Scammers send emails which appear to be from a legitimate bank, financial institution, online payment service or telecommunications service provider, asking for account details and passwords.

5. Online auction and shopping scams 5,012 6.0
Example: The victim buys the product online, it is never sent or is of an inferior quality to what was promised.

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