Scam activity on telco networks has a significant social and economic impact on Australians. The scale and effect of the activity is increasing. Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) consumer research confirms it is a significant problem and people expect more to be done by industry and government.
Scam activity is increasingly sophisticated and hard to detect. It usually originates offshore, readily adapts to disruption measures and ruthlessly exploits new opportunities and vulnerabilities. Australia, along with Canada, the United States and Europe, is targeted by scammers on an industrial scale. There is a need for immediate tangible action given the scale and escalation of the harms.
Chair of the ACMA’s Scam Taskforce Fiona Cameron said scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of Australians. The ACCC’s Scamwatch has received more than 3,000 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus — with over AU$1.3 million in reported losses since the pandemic began.
“Phone scammers are sophisticated, and they target everyone, so Australians need to know what to look out for,” Ms Cameron said.
“These scams impersonate government and other trusted brands to trick people into giving personal and financial details.
“These new resources provide people with simple tools to help them spot—and stop—scams. Phone scammers often pretend to be from someone you trust, such as a bank or a phone company. Scammers then usually ask you for personal information or money.
“If you’ve been scammed, don’t be embarrassed—get help immediately by telling your bank and your phone company.
“You can also protect yourself by never giving out personal details, and letting calls go to voicemail if you don’t know who it is. If it’s a scam, block and report it,” she said.
The ACCC’s recent Targeting scams report found Australians lost over AU$634 million to scams in 2019, a 30% increase on the previous year. Phone calls remain the preferred contact method of scammers with over 58% of Scamwatch reports in 2019 concerned contact via call or text.
The new resources deliver on the ACMA’s action plan to combat scams, which identified awareness and education programs as one of a number of strategies to protect consumers from phone scams.
Visit the ACMA website to access the resources and information that include posters translated into different languages, social media graphics and animations to build community awareness.
The ACMA invites industry and consumer groups to make use of the resources to reach Australians, particularly those who may be in vulnerable circumstances.
To report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.