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Consumer watchdog says scam costs could soar past $4 billion

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Financial losses from scams could double to $4 billion, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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The ACCC said losses were already high and it had received more than 166,000 reports between January and September. Losses were already more than $424 million above the level of 2021 and “vastly understate the real losses”.

Only about 13 per cent of victims report their losses to the ACCC’s Scamwatch.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said the recent large scale data breaches at Medibank and Optus meant millions more people would be vulnerable to scams.

“We know scammers are relentlessly targeting Australians,” Rickard said.

“Research shows that 96 per cent of the population was exposed to a scam in the five years to 2021. Half of the survey’s respondents were contacted daily or weekly by scammers, a figure expected to rise given the current cyber security concerns.”

The ACCC has launched a scam awareness week and has united with 350 organisations to alert the public about scams, which would include educational videos.

“Scammers evolve quickly and their tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated and unscrupulous. There have been hundreds of reports to Scamwatch in the weeks after the recent high profile data breaches and that is expected to continue,” Rickards said.

“Cyber criminals have capitalised on the data breach by impersonating government departments and businesses to carry out identity theft and remote access scams.”

The ACCC has recommended people set up extra steps to access accounts, known as multi factor verification. It said people can ask their banks and service providers to add more checks so no one could pretend to the rightful account owner.

 

 

 

 

 

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