Australians have lost more than $3 billion to scammers in 2022 with Gen Z and Millennials being the most likely victims despite being more internet savvy.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) these losses are alarmingly 80 per cent higher than the amount scammed in 2021.
The top contact method for scammers is text messages (33 per cent) followed by phone calls (29 per cent) and email (22 per cent).
Scamwatch says the most money was taken through investment scams ($377m), Dating and romance games ($40m), false billing ($24m), phishing ($24m), remote access scams ($21m), threats to life or arrest ($13m), identity theft ($10m), jobs, employment scams ($9m), online shopping scams ($9m) and classified scams ($8m).
The research also found that younger people were falling victim despite being digitally connected.
Professor Asha Rayo, School of Science RMIT University says we are seeing an increase of online scammers targeting young people in many ways.
“According to the ACCC 2022 Targeting Scams report, losses due to online scams have risen significantly in the past few years,” she says
“Interestingly, 30 per cent of victims don’t report these scams to anyone as it’s possible victims feel embarrassed.
“Despite being more internet savvy, young people are more vulnerable to online scams, especially in the current economic climate.
“The ACCC report found that young people were more likely to fall for employment scams on social media, their main source of information.
“Many young people are trying to make ends meet or save money for a home deposit and are finding ways to make extra money through task-based, work-from-home jobs such as data entry or content creation.
“Younger people are also more exposed to online scams as they are more likely to dip their toes into new, foreign technology.
“For example, cryptocurrency investments and payments have a high participation rate from younger audiences but are still highly unregulated by governments.”
Dr Abebe Diro, Lecturer in Cybersecurity at RMIT University says there are several ways to navigate the internet safely:
– Always be sceptical, especially when confronted with offers that appear too good to be true and involve money.
– Keep informed about the latest scamming techniques.
– Use two-factor authentication when possible and ensure any software is regularly updated.
– Use strong, unique passwords – Dr Diro says this cannot be overstated in today’s digital landscape.