Scammers have been out in force during the pandemic to try and catch out innocent Australians.
Scammers have been out in force during the pandemic to try and catch out innocent Australians.

How scammers have stolen $91m from innocent Aussies

Innocent Australians who have sought government payments and access to their superannuation are among those who have become the latest targets of scammers during the pandemic.

New figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission showed in 2020 there has been 24,000 reports of stolen personal information - an increase of 55 per cent compared to the same time last year.

The amount of money stolen has reached $91 million - up from $80 million in the same period in 2019.

The amount of money lost to scams has reached $91 million. Picture: iStock
The amount of money lost to scams has reached $91 million. Picture: iStock

 

The ACCC's deputy chair Delia Rickard said many scammers were targeting Australians who had been forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and were spending more time on the internet and their smartphones.

"People are at home and online more and are exposing themselves to more scammers," she said.

"Scammers follow the money, you have a lot of government assistance out there in terms of various grants to help people around COVID-19 and scammers follow that money."

Ms Rickard said superannuation scams was one of the prime targets - 320 reports were made relating to COVID-19 and reported losses of more than $69,000.

"Scammers have used a range of ways to get people's super details," she said.

"Some people have been called directly and told they could be given help to access their money if they hand over all their details."

The age group scammed the most this year was Australians aged 25 to 34.

Assistant Minister for Superannuation Senator Jane Hume said more than 2.7 million Australians had accessed their superannuation early using the Federal Government's scheme - in excess of $32.5 billion has been withdrawn so far.

"A small number of third-party incidences have been detected by the ATO and the offenders caught," she said.

"The ATO has well established processes for dealing with fraud, cyber security is their core business but I urge people to guard their personal information very carefully."

 

The ACCC’s deputy chair Delia Rickard said many scammers were targeting Australians who had been forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Supplied
The ACCC’s deputy chair Delia Rickard said many scammers were targeting Australians who had been forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Supplied

 

Ms Rickard also said some other common scams used by tricksters was when they offered free food vouchers of up to $250.

Scammers duped people into filling out a questionnaire asking for their personal information including having over their bank account details.

Phishing scams also climbed by 44 per cent from the same time last year.

This is when scammers try to coerce someone into giving out personal information including bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.

Scammers also pretended to be from government departments and large companies including telcos.

Ms Rickard warned people to never give out their information to anyone who had contacted them out of the blue.

 

HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED

• Don't be pressured into handing over your personal information.

• Don't click on link in unexpected emails or messages.

• Use strong passwords and never share them.

• Install antivirus software on your devices and keep it up to date.

• Limit what personal information you share.

• If you have been a victim contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273.

• For more information visit the Scamwatch website.

 

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth

 

Originally published as How scammers have stolen $91m from innocent Aussies