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More scammers are on the prowl as more than $85m lost to dodgy deals last year.

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The consumer watchdog, ACCC, was contacted more than 83,000 times by consumers/ SMB’s about scams in 2011- double and quadruple the figure(s) for ’10 and ’09.

And Aussies lost over $85 million to scams last year – up a massive 35% from 2010.

The startling figures are “significant,” says ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, as they “represent ordinary people who have been approached by scammers.”

And it seems think before you pick up, as half of all scams- 43,000 – were conducted over the phone with total of $28 million conned from Australians this way.

Previously the trend has been for scams online, but it seems devious fraudsters are now using cheap VoIP technology including the likes of Skype to make masses of calls.

“Until recent years telephone was considered an old style of scam delivery, but reports suggest that scammers’ abuse of recent advancements in voice over internet technology have contributed to this increase,” said ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper.

Common frauds are those which ask for money up front or that seems “too good to be true,” warns the consumer watchdog. 

Almost 20% of scams involved computer hacking, with scammers calling asking for ‘remote access to their computer to run a scan or fix a technical problem’ while social media and email account hacks were also on the up.

Lottery weep stakes and banking online account schemes including phishing were also among the top 5 scams in Oz last year.

National Consumer Fraud Week 2012 on all this week aims to highlight scam delivery methods and educate Australians to “slam scams” at the point of contact.

“The key message for consumers and businesses is, if you receive a scam, slam it! press delete, throw it out, shut the door or just hang up,” says Schaper.

“With scammers now targeting Australians in a myriad of ways, it is now more important than ever that we stay alert to scam approaches. “

“A phone call, SMS, mobile app, house visit, letter, email, fax, blog post, online chat or dating service – scammers will use any of these means to target victims,” he warned.

 

However, we are becoming more aware of con jobs with almost 90% of those who contacted the ACCC last year reported no financial loss at all.

The watchdog’s SCAMwatch website, also recorded a 400% jump in hits.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is launching its 2011 Targeting Scams report in Sydney later today as part of the ‘Slam Scams!’ campaign, ran by Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce.

Chairman Sims will also launch The Little Black Book of Scams, exposing scammers’ top tactics.

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