Push to make businesses pay for scams

Are consumers unfairly shouldering the fallout of scams?

A report by consumer advocacy group CHOICE seems to think so.

The group recently published a report saying businesses and banks should be doing a lot more to protect and support consumers who have been scammed. 

“The size of the problem and the corresponding toll scams are taking on consumers has not resulted in a comparable response by the businesses enabling the criminal activity,” the report said.

“The businesses with the technology and resources to detect, prevent and respond to scams are not doing enough to protect consumers.”

Passing the buck

The report, Passing the Buck: how businesses leave scam victims feeling alone and ashamed, tracks the journey of scam victims and highlights how they carry the emotional and financial burden, while businesses face virtually no consequences. 

According to the study, after reporting a scam, banks only helped 52 per cent of victims recover the money.

“This is an extremely inconsistent response, and means roughly one in two victims of bank transfer and debit card scams were left to chase their stolen funds on their own,” the report said.

“Unlike banks, consumers do not have the knowledge and infrastructure to do this.”

According to the report:

  • 81 per cent of people reported their bank failed to flag a potential scam
  • in only 14 per cent of cases did the bank contact the victim to alert them to the scam
  • half of the victims believed a 24-hour delay on transfers could have prevented them losing money
  • 61 per cent of victims said they had lost confidence in doing financial transactions online.

Unrealistic and unfair

CHOICE said expecting consumers to combat the increasing sophistication of scams including spoof bank numbers and cloning relative’s voices was unrealistic and unfair.

CHOICE has three main recommendations to restore consumer confidence and protections:

Strong, mandatory and enforceable rules for business. These include a minimum level of protection from scams as well as redress.

Consumers should be reimbursed for scam losses in most cases. CHOICE claims many businesses enabling scams make revenue from the criminal activities they facilitate, such as charging fees on transfers. 

To motivate banks to better protect consumers, banks and financial institutions should be required to reimburse consumers where action or inaction contributed to the scam occurring.

Consumers should have a fast and effective pathway for reporting scams and obtaining redress. This could include a single site for consumers to access external dispute resolution to improve the experience for victims and encourage more scams to be reported. 

Australians lost $2.74 billion to scams last year, which is a 13.1 per cent decline on 2022. 

However, older people suffered the greatest harm at the hands of scammers. People over the age of 65 were the only age group to experience an increase in reported losses. Losses for people over 65 increased by 13.3 per cent in 2023 to $120 million. 

Australians made over 601,000 scam reports in 2023, an 18.5 per cent increase on 2022. In terms of financial losses, investment scams continued to cause the most harm ($1.3 billion), followed by remote access scams ($256 million) and romance scams ($201.1 million). 

Do you think businesses should be doing more to protect victims? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Super scam attempts jump by over 200 per cent

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Australia’s banks are knowingly and wilfully aiding and abetting criminal scammers.
    They have gleefully facilitated the scams for years and have done nothing to implement systems to prevent this criminal activity.
    In addition, the regulatory bodies have been corrupted by the banks and by doing almost nothing, have completely failed the people.
    Bank CEOs and senior executives should be held criminally liable for wilfully aiding and abetting this criminal activity.
    At the very least, the government should immediately make it mandatory for banks to reimburse consumers as per the article.

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