Scams are up big time, they're getting more frequent and sometimes very tricky to pick! So why are they trending?
You've probably been getting a lot of annoying unsolicited texts, voicemails and emails, and not just from Craig Kelly. As you wait for those long-delayed packages a scammer hits you with a fairly legit looking text about your DHL delivery but don't let lockdown brain get the better of you.
How much are scams really up by?
Australians lost a massive $851 million to scams in 2020 alone. Investment scams made up the biggest portion ( more than a third of total scams) at $328 million in 2020, followed by romantic scams $131 million. Scams were up by 23% YoY.
Cybercrime which encompasses personal loss and large scale business attacks are also up 13% during the past financial year, costing Australia $33 billion in the last 12 months. A cybercrime is currently reported every 8 minutes in Australia.
But why now?
“People are more vulnerable to scams than normal right now...people under pressure think emotionally, not cognitively.” Amy Nofziger - director of the AARP’s Fraud Watch.
Sadly like in many disaster events, certain people think of ways to profit - and the rise in new websites for covid-related information/help, government schemes to financially help citizens, and the increased reliance on the internet have all given scammers more opportunities to innovate to deceive people, many of whom aren't as accustomed to the amount of online interaction that is necessary in a pandemic environment.
As an example, during some of the UK's ugliest days of the pandemic, a UK-based 20 yr old politics student sent out the below text to 1,200 citizens - those who were entitled to legitimate pandemic-based financial help. The link in the message took the recipient to a well-designed website that looked almost identical to the real thing - but of course people entered their real details. With a 16% strike RATE from two days of texts he earned 10,019.17 pounds from this alone.
Image Source: Bloomberg - The Covid-19 Pandemic Is Making Everyone More Susceptible to Scams
How can you avoid scams?
Be wary of links: If you are at all suspicious of the source, don’t open links in text messages or emails and be wary of attachments. It’s always better to log into websites directly rather than relying on an emailed link.
Be alert that scams exist: Always consider the possibility that any uninvited contact, or anyone new you are buying from, could be fraudulent. Sign up to one of the many scamwatch email services from consumer bodies to stay informed about new tactics.
And just while we are comparing notes a quick look at the "scam" text folder in my own phone from the last two weeks: