Scammers hit one in four Aussies

Australians lost $48 million to cyber thieves between January and August, according to Stay Smart Online. And with many scams going unreported, these were the known losses from about 38,000 incidents.

Stay Smart Online says more than six million Australians – or about one in four – were affected by cyber crime last year. And in the ongoing battle to identify scams and warn consumers of tactics, scammers’ degree of sophistication presents ongoing challenges.

As it launched Stay Smart Online Week, the Australian Cyber Security Centre warned that scammers were creating more convincing fakes of real online retailers and other websites to steal personal information. 

At the same time, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging tech giants Google, Facebook and Instagram to act on the avalanche of complaints about celebrity endorsement scams on their websites – a 400 per cent increase compared with the previous year.

Deputy chair Delia Rickard said: “These tech giants must do more to quickly suspend ads, as every time consumers click on a scam ad, they are at risk of losing money.

“Most people lost between $100 and $500 and, in one case, a victim lost more than $50,000 through fake celebrity endorsement of an investment scheme.”

Scamwatch says people aged 45 and older accounted for 63 per cent of the celebrity scam losses, with women more likely than men to be a victim.

In response, Facebook said it had taken down 837 million pieces of spam between January and March.

“We also disabled about 583 million fake accounts – most of which were disabled within minutes of registration,” Facebook Australia communications chief Antonia Sanda said in a statement.

“This is in addition to the millions of fake account attempts we prevent daily from ever registering with Facebook.”

Scamwatch suggests the following protective measures:

  • When shopping online, check reviews, do your research and pay only with secure payment methods.
  • Be wary of free downloads and website access, such as music, games, movies and adult sites (as) they may install harmful programs without you knowing.
  • Always keep your computer security up to date. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
  • Don’t click on any links or open attachments from emails claiming to be from your bank or another trusted organisation asking you to update or verify your details – just delete the email.
  • Choose passwords and PINs that would be difficult for others to guess, and update them regularly. Don’t save them on your phone or computer.
  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.

To report a scam, complete this form.

Do you regularly update protective software? And your password? Have you been scammed? Did you report it?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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