Australians lose almost half a billion to scammers

Last year Australians lost almost half a billion to scammers, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Investment scams recorded the highest losses of $86 million, then dating and romance scams. Total losses exceeded $489 million, ACCC deputy chair, Delia Rickard said.

In 2018, losses of almost half a billion dollars were reported by Australians. Photo: Pixabay.

In 2018, losses of almost half a billion dollars were reported by Australians. Photo: Pixabay.

"We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency," she said.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) revealed over $1 million of losses for 2019, and the ACCC has reported over $35 million in losses this year.

Scams such as fake page, catfishing, hacking, false billing and phising are also draining people of their hard-earned money, Southern Highlands Acting Inspector, Matt McCarthy said.

"Recently on a social media site a well-known Australian boot was advertised for the low sum of $50, well below the usual $300-$500 price tag.

"Fake bills are now appearing electronically either with new or updated banking details, a fake bill of works or a phone call with threats of arrest or jail."

The ACCC's Little Black Book of Scams lists some of the most common types; tax office debt or unpaid bill, inheritance scams, fake vouchers and gift cards, identity theft, charity scams or miracle cure.

People can protect themselves by guarding personal information, being aware of unusual payment methods and requests of money, not answering or replying to unknown phone numbers, and taking care when shopping online.

Visit scamwatch.gov.au to report a scam. Where an actual crime has been committed contact local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

For online scams, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network help law enforcement to combat the cybercrime in Australia. Common types of cybercrime include hacking, scams, fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited content.

On May 17 a representative of Legal Aid NSW will talk about protecting your identity and the law at the Crookwell Library at 11am to noon.

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