Online scams are on the rise in Australia, with 19,000 instances reported in 2010 – up 35 percent from the 14,000 in 2009, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has reported.Online scams remained the largest method of delivery, making up almost half the 42,000 scam-related reports received in 2010, ACCC says in a report – Targeting Scams – launched to mark the start of National Consumer Fraud Week 2011.
“The ACCC’s work shows that consumer scams have become a serious form of economic crime, especially in the online arena,” said ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell.
Around 16 per cent of consumers and small businesses who reported scams to the ACCC suffered monetary losses, ranging from a few dollars to several million.
A notable trend was a huge increase in telephone scams, which grew from around 2000 in 2009 to more than 14,000 in 2010. “Many of these calls may have originated offshore and it’s likely that they are taking advantage of cheap or free VoIP services,” says Kell.
There was also an increase in scams impersonating government departments or major businesses. “Some of these scams are quite sophisticated, with the use of logos and language that look and sound genuine,” Kell adds.
The report also notes growing complaints about online auction and shopping scams – up from 1900 to 5500, with more than $3 million in losses.