Australians lose a record $851 million to scams in 2020, says ACCC

Woman on the phone getting frustrated with scam calls.

Scammers duped Aussies out of more money in 2020 than ever previously recorded by the Australian Competition and Consumer Competition (ACCC), with a 23% increase on 2019 figures.

More than 444,000 reports to Scamwatch, ReportCyber, other government agencies and ten major banks and financial intermediaries recorded over $851 million lost to scams.

Just based on the reported figures – the ACCC says real losses are likely much higher – this amounts to an average loss of $7,677 for each affected Aussie.

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ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said more sophisticated scammers “used the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis.” 

Investment scams accounted for the greatest losses ($328 million) followed by romance-related scams ($131 million) and business emails being compromised ($128 million).

Based on data from Scamwatch (the ACCC’s scam reporting agency), health and medical scams increased 20-fold from 2019, resulting in $3.9 million in losses. 

Scamwatch found a pretty even gender split in dollars lost to scams. However, slightly fewer men were being scammed out of larger amounts (more than half were in investment scams), while slightly more women were more likely to lose smaller amounts of money, with almost a third going to romance scams.

Learn more about a few of the scams making the rounds at the moment, as well as different kinds of scams to watch out for with up-to-date info from Scamwatch.

Then investigate everything you might need to know about COVID and your finances with Mozo’s guide.