Scams targeting Australians are rising and experts say the police and banks most likely won’t help you if you’re a victim.
The massive Optus data breach has sent shivers down the spines of the nation’s cybersecurity experts as they brace for yet another round of financial scams targeting Australians.
Australians are no strangers to financial scams.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), almost $300 million was lost to scammers in the first half of 2022 alone.
If you are a victim of a scam, you would think your first port of call would be to report the matter to the police and to your bank to contain the damage.
But Ken Gamble, executive chair of financial private investigator IFW Global, told the New Daily that reporting the matter to police won’t achieve much.
Police won’t help
“One out of every three clients won’t report their losses to the police because of a fear of humiliation and the general understanding that the cops are not going to do anything,” he said.
“Police don’t see financial crime as a priority. They don’t see why they should be the ones dealing with it and they think victims who get caught in overseas scams deserve to lose money.”
In fact, the lack of police interest in these cases is one of the main reasons IFW Global exists. Earlier this week, the group raided a call centre in Manila with the help of Philippines authorities.
The call centre was targeting Australians with a sophisticated scam that sought to convince people to hand over their superannuation. IFW was acting on behalf of six Australian clients who had lost a total of $3.3 million to the scammers.
Neither will the banks (usually)
If a scammer actually gets into your bank account and makes a transaction you didn’t authorise, the bank will generally reimburse your money.
But if scammers trick you into making the transaction yourself, as the Manila superannuation scam was attempting to do, banks are less likely to help.
“The banks will argue that the transaction was authorised by you and therefore they deny liability,” says Gerard Brody, CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC).
CALC is lobbying the government for changes to financial laws that would require banks to reimburse proven scam victims where they are not at fault, even in cases where they had made the transaction themselves.
“Complainants assume that banks should be on the lookout for scam and fraudulent transactions and take steps to prevent transactions being authorised unless they are genuine,” Mr Brody says.
“If we want banks to be incentivised to actually protect customers through system and technology changes though, we need much clearer rules requiring our banks to proactively detect scams and prevent scam losses, and to reimburse to blameless victims.”
If you do find yourself the victim of a scam, or even if you see some suspicious activity, you can report the issue to the ACCC’s Scamwatch service.
Do you think banks should be forced to reimburse scam victims? Have you been the victim of a scam? Let us know in the comments section below.