Scam reports have almost doubled for the second consecutive year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
In the ACCC’s 2011 Targeting Scams annual report, 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," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
Coming in fifth place of the top five type of scams reported to the ACCC was online auction and shopping scam, making up 6 per cent of total scam reports. In these cases, victims bought a product online and it was either never sent or the quality of the product was inferior to what was promised.
Others making it to the top five list were advance fee/up-front payment scams, computer hacking scams, lottery and sweepstake scams and banking and online account scams, including phishing.
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 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."
"Almost 88 per cent of Australians who contacted the ACCC last year regarding scams reported no financial loss at all. 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.”
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