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ACCC report reveals Australians lost more than $2 billion to scams in 2021

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams report revealed that Australians lost approximately $2 billion to scams in 2021.

The report compiled data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, 12 financial organisations, and relevant government agencies.

The report also revealed that one-third of all victims did not report scams to the ACCC, leaving the total cost to be well over $2 billion. Out of the total losses:

  • $701 million were lost to investment scams (primarily via cryptocurrency)
  • $227 million were lost to payment redirection scams, and
  • $142 million were lost to romance scams.

According to Scamwatch, the most frequently reported scams were:

  • phishing and identity theft scams (93,000 complaints)
  • threats to life, arrest or other (32,000 complaints)
  • false billing (21,000 complaints), and
  • online shopping scams (20,000 complaints).

Moreover, the report revealed that the primary targets of scams in 2021 were indigenous Australians, the elderly, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and individuals with disabilities. Scammers frequently posed as charities or health disaster departments to lure unsuspecting victims.

Despite increased communication, intelligence, and awareness between government, law enforcement and the private sector, scams continued to pervade the community. The ACCC is adamant about continuing this collaborative approach to scam disruption and has called upon further regulatory protections in the sectors of cryptocurrency, finance, and telecommunications. The ACCC is particularly wanting banks and financial institutions to match payee information in pay anyone transactions, as this is proven in other countries to limit false scam payments.

The ACCC continues to urge Australians to send in complaints to Scamwatch in 2022 and share their experiences to educate the community about scam behaviour and activities.

For the full reading of the report, see here.

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