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Aussies are losing an average of $12,000 to scams, says Westpac

Ceyda Erem

Wednesday 14 August 2019

One thing Aussies hear about more often than they should are family or friends becoming victims of scams. And whether or not you have been or know someone who’s been scammed, it’s a lot more common than you think. 

According to Westpac’s Scam Research Report almost one in ten Aussies surveyed have been impacted by a scam in the last 12 months, with those who have been scammed losing an average of $12,000 and taking an average of one month to recover the funds. 

“Scammers are now using very sophisticated techniques, tricks and technologies to convince unsuspecting Australians to hand over their hard-earned cash,” said Ben Young, Westpac Head of Fraud. 

And it’s not just financial heartbreak Aussies are experiencing, as two thirds of those surveyed felt embarrassed, ashamed or anxious to let their friends and family know they had been scammed.

“While we’re seeing record levels of financial loss to scams, it’s not just our wallets that are suffering. Our data shows that scammers are taxing our time, creating stress and taking a toll on our relationships,” said Young. 

Small businesses feel ‘scam shame’ 

Further research by Westpac found that 44% of small businesses are no strangers to scams either, with those affected losing a whopping $38,845 on average and recouping less than half. 

Almost half of small businesses reported to have suffered further financial consequences from being scammed, like having to invest in improved scam protection - an action taken up by 25% of small businesses.

“While most small businesses are confident they can identify scams, many of the latest scams we’re seeing, like business email compromise scams and remote access scams, are so well disguised it takes a lot of expertise to recognise and safely avoid them,” said Ganesh Chandrasekkar, General Manager of SME Banking at Westpac. 

Some of the more frequent forms of scams small businesses experience include false billing or invoices and domain name renewal scams. 

What the future holds for Aussie online safety 

It’s clear that many Aussies have had their fair share of scams, but with emerging online technologies, like fintechs, set to change the way we do our banking, could we heading toward a new generation of security breaches? 

Although fintechs will be managed by regulatory bodies, like Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), they will need to do their bit to ensure that security is made a top priority. 

“While it’s great to see new technology making banking easier than ever, it’s incredibly important that the companies developing these tools have a strong focus on security issues so that people can be confident trusting them with their financial information” said Mozo Banking Expert, Peter Marshall. 

“One important thing to keep in mind is that as technology gets smarter, so do scammers.” 

So if you’d like to find out more about what fintechs are up to, head on over to our fintech hub, which is filled with stacks of articles and guides. And if you’d like some more security tips, check out our guide to staying safe when banking online.

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