Australians are set to lose a record amount to scams in 2019.
Projections from losses reported to Scamwatch and other government agencies so far is expected to exceed $532 million by the end of the year.
This will see it surpass half a billion dollars for the first time.
This year’s National Scams Awareness Week will urge consumers to test their scams knowledge and refresh their scam protection and detection skills.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said the landscape for scammers has changed.
Investment scams are one of the most sophisticated and convincing scams and continue to have the highest losses. Nearly half of all investment scams reported this year resulted in a financial loss.
These scams are prominent on social media, with ‘Facebook lottery’ scams, the ‘Loom’ pyramid scheme, and cryptocurrency scams particularly common.
Cryptocurrency investment scams have seen record losses, with reports to the ACCC alone of $14.76 million between January and July 2019. Many use social media platforms, fake celebrity endorsements or fake online trading platforms that are made to look legitimate.
Rickard said the agency is advising customers to be wary.
“Our advice is to be wary of ads you see on the internet. Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible,” Rickard said.
“If you think you’re speaking to a friend on social media, call them, or find another way to contact them before acting on any advice that might result in you giving away your personal details or money.”
“Many people are confident they would never fall for a scam but often it’s this sense of confidence that scammers target.
“People need to update their idea of what a scam is so that we are less vulnerable. Scammers are professional businesses dedicated to ripping us off. They have call centres with convincing scripts, staff training programs, and corporate performance indicators their ‘employees’ need to meet.
The ACCC has produced a series of videos with tips and tricks on how to spot a scam, and to test people’s awareness of scams. The full series is also available on YouTube.