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Scamdemic: Three in Four Australians Experienced Spike in Scams in Past Year

  • Written by Avast


A quarter (25%) of Australians encounter scams on a weekly basis, according to research commissioned by Avast1, a global leader in digital security and privacy. The new research reveals the extent of the scamdemic currently facing Australians with three-quarters experiencing a spike in attempted scams in the last 12 months, and one in five (19%) being targeted by scammers at least once a day.

Historically, email has been the main means by which scammers target their victims, however that risk has now spread to multiple communications channels, with the research showing scams are reaching Australians mainly via email (78%), text message (75%), phone calls (66%), messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger (36%), and social media (31%).

While Avast’s research reveals that most Australians (84%) believe they can identify a scam, with 3 in 5 (61%) confident they wouldn’t fall for one, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch tells a different story. Australians have reported over $336 million lost to scams in 2022 (July), compared with $323.7 million over all of 2021, which was already a staggering 84% increase on 2020. 

Stephen Kho, cyber security expert at Avast says, “We are in the midst of a scamdemic, and there is a clear disconnect between Australians’ perceived confidence in ability to identify a scam and the increasing amount of money being lost to scams every year. In reality, this is being further fuelled by our own fear of embarrassment, with half (50%) of Australians admitting they would feel embarrassed if they fell for a scam despite the prevalence and sophistication of some of these scams, as scammers get sharper with their tools and scams become increasingly more targeted to individuals’ situations.”

The research shows that nearly nine in ten (89%) respondents agreed that online scams are becoming much more sophisticated, and 44% feel scams are increasingly becoming more personal and targeted. Many (45%) admit that they would be more likely to fall for a scam that addresses them personally by name.

“The best tool we have for combatting this scamdemic is to make a unified effort to speak up about our experiences to help educate others on what to look out for, as scammers become craftier and target us in new ways every day. We need to destigmatise the experience of being scammed,” Kho says. 

As experts in digital security and privacy, Avast has created the Scamdemic Centre to help educate digital citizens around scams and trigger important conversations and knowledge sharing with family and friends. 

“The vast majority of Australians (85%) agree that there needs to be more education around how to avoid falling for a scam, and Avast’s Scamdemic Centre is aimed at playing a role in that while encouraging Australians to share their experiences to further educate the wider digital community and help tackle this ever-growing issue,” explains Kho. 

The three main reasons Australians believe scams are becoming increasingly difficult to spot are advanced technology being readily available to scammers (73%), the many ways scammers can gain access to their victims’ personal information (i.e. text, email, social media) (62%), and the belief that people share too much information online, making them ‘easier’ targets in the eyes of cyber criminals (60%). 

“Australians recognise that people are getting complacent with their online security (44%), but with free digital security products like Avast One, this is easily rectified. 

“Avast truly believes in prevention, as it is difficult to recover financial losses after being deceived into handing them over to bad actors,” Kho continues. 

Stephen Kho, cyber security expert at Avast, has tips to help you spot a scam:

  • The sender’s name is vague, and the email address is long or convoluted
  • The sender’s phone number is international or an unknown local phone number
  • The email or message is attention-grabbing or alarmist
  • The call you have received is from an unknown number with a robo speaker
  • The email or message urges immediate action of some kind
  • The email, message or call cites some pretence for seeking your personal information, including asking you to log in or confirm your details on a website
  • The email or message requests payment or a transfer of funds
  • The email or message urges you to click hyperlinked text or a link without clarifying where you are clicking

The Scamdemic Centre can be found here: https://www.avast.com/en-au/avast-scamdemic-centre#pc

To update on your digital security, download Avast One here.

About the research:

1 The survey was conducted by Pureprofile on behalf of Avast, between 6th June and 8th June 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 1,010 respondents in Australia aged 18-65+ years old.

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