Scams cost Australian consumers, businesses, and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year and cause serious emotional harm to victims and their families.
Scams Awareness Week took place 8-12 November 2021. This year we encouraged everyone to have an open conversation about scams to reduce stigma and help people recognise a scam sooner or prevent scams from happening in the first place.
In 2020 Australians made more than 216,000 reports to Scamwatch and reported losses of around $178 million. By the end of September this year, Australians had lost even more: Scamwatch received more than 226,000 reports with reported losses of over $222 million.
As alarming as these numbers are, we know that around one third of people who are scammed never tell anyone, so the true numbers are probably much higher.
One of the reasons someone who’s been scammed might not report it is that people can feel shame or embarrassment about what has happened to them. However, by talking about scams we can reduce the stigma and work together to stop them.
How to talk about scams
Having a conversation about scams with your workmates, friends and family is an essential part of stopping scams and protecting people you care about.
Talking about scams may help others identify a scam, raise awareness about the impacts of scams and help prevent them from falling victim to a scam.
People who get scammed often feel unable to start a conversation about what is happening or don’t even realise they’re in a scam.
That’s why this Scams Awareness Week we are encouraging everyone to start those conversations.
Start a conversation using TALK:
Talk to your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues about the scams you see and ask them if they have seen any.
Ask a simple question like “Have you ever been scammed?” or “How do you avoid scams?”
Listen to people talk about their scam stories and experiences. If people share their scam stories, be sure to listen actively and without judgement. Showing you care can help someone open up and you might learn something too.
Keep talking about scams and scam experiences. The more we talk about scams, the less likely we will get caught in one and the less stigma there will be in talking about scams. So, talk to as many people as you can about scams!
Types of scams
Remote access scams try to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem.
Scammers use all kinds of sneaky approaches to steal your personal details. Once obtained, they can use your identity to commit fraudulent activities such as using your credit card or opening a bank account.
Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else’s identity to steal money or gain other benefits.
Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out your personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.
Hacking occurs when a scammer gains access to your personal information by using technology to break into your computer, mobile device or network.
Scammers will use any means possible to steal your identity or your money – including threatening your life or ‘hijacking’ your computer.
Malware tricks you into installing software that allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing, while ransomware demands payment to ‘unlock’ your computer or files.
Scamwatch tools and resources
The Scamwatch and ACCC websites contain a range of useful tools and resources to help you avoid and deal with scams.
- Scamwatch Report Form – If you’ve come across a scam you can report it here.
- Helping a friend or family member who is a victim to a scam – Useful information if someone close to you has been scammed.
- Be Safe, Be Alert Online – Information on organisations who may be able to help when someone has been scammed.
- Where else to get help – Other organisations who might be able to help when someone has fallen victim to a scam.
- Little Black Book of Scams – Information on identifying a scam (available digitally in a range of languages).