Courtney Allan


“Too smart to be scammed?”: The question the ACCC is asking regular Aussies

“Too smart to be scammed?”: The question the ACCC is asking regular Aussies

With Australian consumers on track to lose more than half a billion dollars to con artists and scammers this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is urging people to refresh their ideas of a scam.

As scams increase in sophistication, including emails that impersonate the tax office and communications from your bank, it can be harder to protect yourself against these scams.

As part of National Scams Awareness Week (August 12 to August 16), the ACCC says people need to refresh their “scam protection and detection” skills.

The campaign’s theme is “too smart to be scammed?” with evidence showing that those who overestimate their ability to detect a scam are putting themselves at risk.

“Many people are confident they would never fall for a scam, but often it’s this sense of confidence that scammers target,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said to The New Daily.

“People need to update their idea of what a scam is so that we are less vulnerable.’’

More research has showed that not only do scams have a significant financial impact on the victim, it can also impact them emotionally.

Nearly one in 10 Aussies have been scammed in the last year according to Westpac’s State of Scams report that was released last Monday.

One in two scam victims were impacted emotionally, which included losing faith and trust in others.

Two-thirds of victims were embarrassed to let those close to them know what happened, with victims of dating or romance scams being impacted the worse.

“While we’re seeing record levels of financial loss to scams, it’s not just our wallets that are suffering,” Westpac head of fraud Ben Young said.

“Our data shows that scammers are taxing our time, creating stress and taking a toll on our relationships.”

Deakin University consumer behaviour expert Paul Harrison says that modern consumers are “conditioned” to be aware of “manipulative” marketing tactics.

“The main issue is that it is easier to believe than not to believe,” Dr Harrison said.

“You actually do have to exist in a world where you can trust institutions and trust brand. It’s quite rough on people to say you shouldn’t fall for scams – everyone falls for scams all the time.”

“We like to think that if it happened to me, I wouldn’t fall for it,” he said.

“But everybody is potentially a victim.”

How to keep yourself safe from scammers

  • Don’t click on links or open attachments from email addresses you don’t recognise
  • Never provide your credit card or banking details over email
  • Set up two-factor authentication
  • Check the email addresses the suspicious email has been sent for
  • Look out for obvious spelling mistakes in the email or text message
  • Utilise Google to check that the number or email you’ve been provided is correct (for example, if the ATO is asking you to call them on a specific number, Googling the number could prove that the number is not from the ATO)
  • Review your financial statements and report suspicious activity as soon as it’s noticed