More than 1 million Australians have been scammed in the last 12 months with the average victim losing $3,000, a major bank has revealed while calling on Australians to exercise caution.
While older Australians have historically been more likely to fall for scams, the new Westpac research revealed younger generations were nearly twice as likely to have been targeted during COVID-19.
One in ten of those under the age of 30 said they were impacted by a scam in the past year, compared to just 6 per cent of their older counterparts.
The research also revealed the types of scams that Aussies are increasingly falling victim to.
Remote access scams increased 370 per cent over the last year. However, investment scams continue to pose the greatest concern by number of reports, and have increased 180 per cent.
“With more people working from home and shopping online during restrictions, coupled with the fact it’s also tax season, we’re seeing a rise in scams impersonating businesses or that threaten you into sharing personal information,” Westpac head of fraud, Ben Young said.
The bank reported an uptick in victims being targeted through emails (up 72 per cent), social media (up 40 per cent), websites (up 36 per cent) and smartphone apps (up 33 per cent).
There has also been a big uptick in investment scams using false celebrity endorsements, or too-good-to-be-true cryptocurrency offers enticing people looking for additional income or quick cash.
Financial and emotional loss
The research comes as new Westpac data shows the number of reported scams from customers has doubled in the past year.
“Each month Westpac intervenes on more than 6,000 transactions and prevents more than $2 million being lost to scammers across its banking channels – protecting customers whether they’re using mobile or online banking, making online purchases or transacting in one of our branches.”
3 ways to avoid a scam
There are a number of things you can put in place for an added layer of protection, Westpac said.
Turn on mobile push notifications so you can track your bank transactions in real-time. If something looks suspicious, you can report it straight away.
If a card is lost or stolen, customers can apply an instant block through Westpac’s online and mobile banking to prevent any unauthorised purchases and have a new card issued.
Some smartphones offer a feature that will warn you if an unknown caller is a potential scammer.