It is the age-old story that predates the internet; an African prince has a rare investment opportunity that requires a simple down payment, or you have been nominated the winner of a lottery that you haven’t even placed an entry for.
Although these obvious scams have become clichés, fraud is becoming no less of a problem in Australian society. According to the latest statistics from ACCC’s Scamwatch, Australian consumers have been scammed out of almost 28 million dollars since January this year alone. It is estimated that the total amount Australians lost to scams last year was a staggering 229 million dollars.
“We know that in reality the actual total is higher still as many people never report that they’ve been scammed,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in a recent statement.
Today marks the beginning of National Consumer Fraud Week, an event run by Fair Trading dedicated to providing information on how to avoid being scammed. Seniors are one of the most vulnerable groups targeted by scams, with over 55’s losing over 21 million dollars to fraud in 2015.
“In 2015 Australians over 55 lost $21 million to scammers. We hope that by providing our seniors with valuable information that we can decrease this number in 2016 and beyond,” Fair Trading Commissioner Rob Stowe says.
The majority of scam losses were to fraudulent investments and online dating scams. Scamwatch advises that you never send personal details to anyone you meet online, to not get pressured into making hasty decisions, to check whether an investment opportunity is listed on ASIC’s MoneySmart website and to run situations by a third party if they seem suspect.
More information about scams is available from NSW Fair Trading at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or by contacting Scamwatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au. Fraud Week runs from 16 May – 20 May, to register your attendance at one of the public information sessions during Fraud Week follow NSW Fair Trading on www.events.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20.