Aussies reporting more scams but money lost drops ahead of mandatory code for banks, social media and telcos

Dylan Caporn
The Nightly
Australians reported more than 600,000 scams last year, a huge increase on the previous year’s numbers, but a drop in financial losses has the Federal Government confident crackdown measures are working. 
Australians reported more than 600,000 scams last year, a huge increase on the previous year’s numbers, but a drop in financial losses has the Federal Government confident crackdown measures are working.  Credit: maxkabakov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Australians reported more than 600,000 scams last year, a huge increase on the previous year’s numbers, but a drop in financial losses has the Federal Government confident crackdown measures are working.

In the latest Targeting Scams report from the Federal Government shows in 2023, Australians lost $2.74 billion to scams, down from $3.15 billion in 2022, a 13 per cent decrease.

The drop, which the Government attributed to the establishment of the National Anti-Scam Centre and stronger powers to shut down websites, and banks limiting transfers to crypto-currency websites, came despite an 18.5 per cent rise in scam reports.

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Despite drops in most contact methods, such as telephone calls and texts, trends showed growth of scams on social media platforms such as Facebook by 17 per cent.

ACCC deputy chairwoman Catriona Lowe said there was more work which needed to be done to crack down on scammers.

“Over the next two years the National Anti-Scam Centre will continue a technology build that will coordinate intelligence and distribute information to those who can act on it – such as banks to freeze accounts, telcos to block calls or SMSs and digital platforms to take down websites or accounts,” she wrote in the report.

“We will partner with other organisations to tackle the most harmful scams and we will continue to raise scams awareness with the people who are most at-risk.

“While cooperation can achieve a great deal, it is not enough. We need all parties at the table – not just the volunteers.

“This is why we continue to work with Treasury in its development of a Scams Code Framework with mandatory and enforceable obligations on banks, telecommunications providers, and digital platforms.”

The report showed drops in financial losses after the establishment of the Centre in July 2023, does 21 per cent in the second half of last year.

Financial services minister Stephen Jones in conversation with FAA CEO Sarah Abood at the Financial Advice Association lunch today.
Financial services minister Stephen Jones.. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Investment scam losses decreased by 13 per cent while money lost to fake romances dropped by 4 per cent.

Assistant treasurer Stephen Jones said the report showed the Government’s plan was working, but “every dollar lost to a scam is a tragedy”.

“We want Australia to be a world leader in combatting scammers and our mandatory codes will put us well ahead,” he said.

“While the report shows positive early signs, scam losses remain far too high and we urge Australians to remain alert to the threat of scammers and report any suspicious activity.”

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