Scams

Don't get scammed looking for a lockdown puppy

Australians have lost nearly $300,000 to puppy scams this year, and scammers have been particularly targeting those seeking a furry companion during social isolation.

Scamwatch has seen a recent spike in puppy scams and in April reports were almost five times higher than the average, with losses on track to exceed the 2019 total of $360,000.

“A lot of people are stuck at home and going online to buy a pet to help them get through the loneliness of social isolation,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Scammers targeting superannuation in COVID-19 crisis

Scammers are now trying to exploit Australians financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis with new superannuation scams being reported to Scamwatch in recent weeks.

Scammers are already trying to take advantage of the Government’s recent announcement that people suffering financial hardship can have partial access to their superannuation from mid-April.

“Scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help you get early access to your super,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Warning on COVID-19 scams

Australians should be aware scammers are adapting existing technology to play on people’s fears around coronavirus and selling products claiming to prevent or cure the virus.

Since 1 January 2020, the ACCC’s Scamwatch has received 94 reports of scams about coronavirus, but warns figures are starting to climb.

Scamwatch has received multiple reports of phishing scams sent via email or text message that claim to be providing official information on coronavirus but are attempts to try and obtain personal data.

Gen Z the fastest growing victims of scams

Australians under 25 lost over $5 million to scams in 2019 and reports made from this age group are increasing faster than older generations.

In 2019, around 12,000 (7.15 per cent) reports made to Scamwatch were from people under the age of 25, an increase of 11 per cent compared to 2018 figures. Reports from this age group increased by 10 percentage points more than any other age group.

“Scammers don’t discriminate based on age and the wide range of scams reported by this age group is concerning,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Romance scammers move to new apps, costing Aussies more than $28.6 million

Scammers are using new online platforms to take advantage of their victims, with dating and romance scams making up one fifth of losses across all scams reported to Scamwatch in 2019.

Australians reported almost 4,000 dating and romance scams in 2019, with losses of more than $28.6 million, and these numbers will be just the tip of the iceberg. Around 37.5 per cent of reports resulted in a loss, with an average loss of more than $19,000.

Bushfires and scams

There are currently a wide range of appeals raising funds for people and animals affected by the bushfires. Unfortunately, some of these are scams. The ACCC has set up a dedicated phone number for the public to report bushfire related scams.

'Tis the season for online shopping scams

Australians have already lost more money to online shopping scams in 2019 than in the entire previous year, and Scamwatch is warning people to be cautious of online shopping scams in the lead up to the holiday season.

So far in 2019, reported losses from online shopping scams are over $4 million, well in excess of the 2018 total figure of $3.28 million.

“Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Threat and kidnap scams continue to target Chinese community

The ACCC’s Scamwatch service is warning the Chinese community in Australia to be wary about two alarming scams that involve extortion via fake kidnappings and threats of arrest.

In 2019, Scamwatch has received approximately 900 reports about scams targeting the Chinese community, with losses totalling over $1.5 million. This figure already exceeds total losses to the scam for 2018 which came to just under $1.2 million. Losses have been experienced in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia; however the scam is targeting people nationwide.

How criminals steal your identity information to steal your money

Scams reported to the ACCC involving identity theft or the loss of personal/banking information have cost Australians at least $16 million this year, and this figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Four in 10 Scamwatch reports in 2019 involve attempts to gain information or the actual loss of victims’ information.

“If you think scammers might have gained access to your personal information, even in a scam completely unrelated to your finances, immediately contact your bank,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.