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Aussies lose $2.2bn to one cruel act

Sad old woman with credit card calling bank support, reporting about money fraud
Australians have been hit hard by credit card fraud.

A record 1.8 million Australians saw $2.2bn of their savings spent or withdrawn after their credit card details were stolen across the 2022-23 financial year.

Released on Wednesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Fraud Survey reported an increase in unauthorised credit card payments, up from 1.7 million in 2021-22, with the average amount withdrawn or spent per incident valued at more than $1200.

One in three had less than $100 withdrawn or spent, while one in six had more than $1000 taken from their account.

Woman victim of credit card fraud
Much of the savings lost to credit card fraud were recouped by victims. Picture: iStock

Among those who fell victim to card fraud, 45 to 54 year olds were the most likely age cohort to be affected, while 15 to 24 year olds were least likely to be affected by attempts to steal credit card details.

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Nearly every individual subject to fraud reported it to their bank to assist with recuperating losses, bringing the net loss after reimbursements to just $476m.

However, despite the uptick in fraudulent card payments, the number of consumers caught in scams fell compared with the 12 months prior to about half a million.

“Buying or selling scams, which includes things like false billing and online shopping scams, were the most common, experienced by nearly 200,000 Australians,” the bureau’s head of crime and justice statistics William Milne said.

The prevalence of identity theft remained unchanged, with 159,600 Australians having their own personal information used without their consent.

QUESTION TIME
Financial Services Minister said the latest data had demonstrated “positive signs” that its crackdown on scammers was worker. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Over the same period, about $560m was lost to reported scams, according to separate data released by the competition watchdog’s National Anti-Scam Centre.

The centre is having some success in combating scams, with its latest report showing a sharp decline in incidents over the three months to December on a quarterly basis.

Minister Stephen Jones said the government was working hard to intercept the “malicious criminals” running scam operation.

“Scam losses are going down for the first time in years and almost halved in the last quarter of 2023,” Mr Jones said.

“This is a direct result of the government’s investment to crack down on scammers and make it harder for them to target to Aussie consumers.

“While there are promising signs that our plan is working, we all need to remain vigilant and urge Aussie consumers to keep up to date with advice from the ACCC to protect themselves.”