Aussies lost a whopping $3.1 billion to scams in 2022: What to watch out for

aussies concerned over being scammed

Last year was financially challenging for many Australians. Between the cash rate hikes, the cost of living crisis and rising house and rental prices, it’s been hard to take a breath.

To top it off, Aussies lost $3.1 billion to scams, an 80% increase since 2021. 

These figures came from a recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report, which revealed that scammers are getting smarter, and Australians have continued to fall victim to their tactics. 

“Australians lost more money to scams than ever before in 2022, but the true cost of scams is much more than a dollar figure as they also cause emotional distress to victims, their families and businesses,” ACCC deputy chair, Catriona Lowe says.

“As scammers become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics, it’s clear a coordinated response across government, law enforcement and the private sector is essential to combat scams more effectively.”

While the ACCC’s Scamwatch received fewer scam reports in 2022, the losses experienced by victims increased by 50%, with an average of $200,000.

“We have seen alarming new tactics emerge which make scams incredibly difficult to detect. This includes everything from impersonating official phone numbers, email addresses and websites of legitimate organisations to scam texts that appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages. This means now more than ever, anyone can fall victim to a scam,” says Lowe.

A popular scam of 2022 was the “Hi Mum” and “Toll/Linkt” text messages that asked victims to pay money via a link provided. The issue with those particular scams was that they used phone numbers a recipient might know–making them seem believable.

graphic of 2022 scams
Image credit: ACCC/Scamwatch

However, it’s with investment scams that Aussies continue to fall victim most. Scamwatch noted $377 million in losses in this sector alone.

Then dating and romance scams followed with $40 million in losses, and then false billing saw $24 million in recorded losses.

bar graph with top scams 2022
Image credit: ACCC/Scamwatch

The ACCC attributes the rise in scams to the large-scale, high-profile data breaches late last year. Some notable breaches included big companies such as Optus, MediBank and Twitter. 

“Scammers are the most opportunistic of all criminals. Unfortunately, the more information a scammer has about you, the more convincing they can be,” says Lowe.

“In the weeks after the data breaches, there were hundreds of reports to Scamwatch, including reports of scammers impersonating government departments and businesses to carry out identity theft and remote access scams.”

To learn more about how to avoid scams check out our Family Finance page to find all our guides and tips. And always be sure to put your hard earned money into a deposit product with an authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI), such as the best savings accounts highlighted by our Mozo experts.