The idea behind this year's theme, Stop Scams. Speak Up, is that talking about scams reduces stigma, as well as helps recognise and prevent scams.
Scamwatch, which is run by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), released data showing the number and cost of scams is expected increase in 2021. In 2020, Australians made more than 216,000 reports to Scamwatch and reported losses of around $178 million. By the end of September this year, Scamwatch received more than 226,000 reports with reported losses of over $222 million.
High as these numbers are, Scamwatch said that around a third of people never tell anyone due to embarrassment or shame, so the true numbers are probably greater.
Scams the ACCC warns about range from online shopping and classified scams, threat-based scams and remote access scams – in one case, a business owner was almost conned by scammers pretending to be a security software company.
A particularly popular one at the moment is a so-called Flubot, where you get a scam text message about missed calls, voicemails or deliveries. Scamwatch had received 16,000 reports of these scams as of October. The scam texts ask you to download an app to track delivery or listen to a voicemail – this app is in fact malicious software called a Flubot, which can then gain access to your passwords and accounts. These scams are being updated all the time, and may now even look like Zoom invites, Google verifications and thank you messages from clinics.
Scam Awareness Week is being run in conjunction with a number of partners, including local governments and councils, government departments and agencies, NSW Police and Australia Post.