Scammers had a bumper year in 2018, taking just shy of half a billion dollars from Australians according to the ACCC's new Targeting scams report (see infographic below).
Australians reported a total loss of $489 million last year from scams, $149 million more than 2017. The amounts only include losses reported by victims to the ACCC and other government agencies.
ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard, said unreported losses could make the actual total much higher.
"These record losses are likely just the tip of the iceberg," she said. "We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency.”
Email impersonation, social engineering attacks against Australian businesses continue
Businesses are targeted by one of the more sophisticated scams, termed "business email compromise scams" by the ACCC.
"Scammers are hacking businesses’ email systems and impersonating key personnel in emails. They request changes to regular bank account details so that money is transferred to the scammer’s account instead of where it should normally go. Many businesses are caught off guard because the emails appear genuine."
The scams can also involve social engineering, where staff are unwittingly coerced into giving out internal or financial information allowing the scammer to better impersonate an actual person.
The attacks are notoriously difficult to detect and track, and often lead to unrecoverable financial loss.
Automated fake ATO phone scams a new threat
Investment scams, romance scams and scammers posing as the ATO were three key scam trends in 2018.
While email continues to be a common platform for attacks, phone-based scams continue to account for almost half of reported scams.
Steps you can take
Enabling multi-factor authentication is a quick and effective security measure for protecting yourself from scams. Particularly securing your accounts against business email compromise scams.
If your email login credentials have been promised, MFA can prevent the scammer from accessing your account.
The full Targeting scams report is available here from the ACCC.