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‘Worrying epidemic’: More than a third of Aussies scammed – The ones catching us out

5 min read
28 Nov 2023
angry old man upset that he fell for a phishing scam

As Australian households continue to battle rising costs across the board, alarming new research from Compare the Market has revealed the staggering number of Australians that have fallen victim to a scam.

More than a third of Australians (37%) surveyed admit that they’ve been swindled out of cash due to scams – up 2.49% from the same time last year.* Email, phone call, text message and online shopping scams were the most likely to catch Australians out.

According to the latest data:

  • 1% of Australians have been caught out by an email scam
  • 2% of Australians have been bamboozled by a phone call scam
  • 3% of Australians have been scammed via a text or WhatsApp
  • 6% of Australians have lost money to a scam when online shopping

Compare the Market’s Sarah Orr said scams were becoming a worrying epidemic, costing innocent Australians hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

“The sad reality is that hundreds of thousands of hardworking Australians have been scammed so far in 2023, with that number expected to climb by the end of the year,” Ms Orr said. “Any time a scam catches out an Australian is truly devastating, and the sad reality is that these scams are becoming more sophisticated and harder to decipher.

“In many cases, people are being caught out by phishing scams, where scammers act as though they’re from legitimate businesses – and try to trick you into giving away your personal information or money.

“The worrying thing is that these scams, messages, emails and links often look so real that people don’t know they’ve been scammed until it’s too late. It’s extremely worrying and heartbreaking for those who are caught out.”

According to Compare the Market’s latest research:

  • email scams are up nearly 5% compared to the same time last year
  • online shopping scams have increased by 1% year-on-year
  • the number of people falling victim to phone call scams has risen by about 2%

More people in 2023 aren’t aware of how they’ve been scammed compared to last year, something Ms Orr said is concerning but not surprising.

“Frustratingly, these scammers are constantly changing their tactics and many Australians aren’t even aware of how their money or personal data is being stolen,” Ms Orr said.

“It’s a good idea to change your passwords frequently, regularly monitor your finances, and be cautious of any links you’re being asked to click.

“If in doubt, it’s okay to take your time to ensure that you’re 100% sure you’re dealing with an actual provider or retailer.

“If you’re concerned that something seems too good to be true, cautious of a link you’re being asked to click or not sure if you should be handing over your personal information, protect yourself. Always contact your provider or retailer directly by visiting their official website or phoning their official phone number.”

The research also found that it’s mainly younger age groups who are most likely to be scammed, but Ms Orr stressed that scams don’t discriminate.

Scam typeAge group most likely to be scammed
Email scam25-34-year-olds
Scam text/WhatsApp18-24-year-olds
Dating App25-34-year-olds
Random phone call18-24-year-olds
Door knocker18-24-year-olds
Social media25-34-year-olds
Online shopping18-24-year-olds
I don’t know55-64-year-olds
Haven’t been scammed55-64-year-olds

‘It’s vital to stay vigilant, up your security and report anything immediately if you notice something isn’t right.”

Scam type20222023Percentage difference
Email scam11.2%16.1%+4.9%
Scam text/WhatsApp12%11.3%-0.7%
Dating App3.7%3.4%-0.3%
Random phone call10%12.2%+2.2%
Door knocker3.1%2.2%-0.9%
Social media5.4%5.7%+0.3%
Online shopping8.6%9.6%+1%
I don’t know3.5%4.1%+0.6%
Haven’t been scammed63.9%63%-0.9%

 Ms Orr said there are several things you can look out for to avoid being scammed.

  1. Beware of generic messages. Messages that are vague and don’t include any information specific to you, such as your name or address, could be a scam. Pay close attention to the email address, phone number or social media account sending you this message.
  2. Look out for spelling mistakes. Mistakes happen to the best of us, but if you receive a text or email that seems a little off or doesn’t make sense, there’s a good chance it might not be legitimate.
  3. Know where you’re being directed to. Ensure any website you’re being asked to visit is authentic. If you’ve been asked to provide any personal information, banking details or other sensitive data, avoid clicking a link and visit the website or app directly. Similarly, you may wish to phone a company directly and verify if the info you’re being asked to provide is legitimate.
  4. What are you being asked to download? Where possible, download files from the provider’s official website or contact them directly. Similarly, pay close attention to website addresses and URLs and if there are any errors or it doesn’t seem right, be careful of what details you provide.
  5. Report activity of concern. If you think you’ve received a fraudulent message or fallen victim to a scam, report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch website and to any company you believe has been compromised. Also contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you think your details have been jeopardised, as they may be able to freeze accounts or stop unauthorised transactions and update any passwords you have.

*Survey of 1,003 Australian adults conducted in September 2023. 2022 data taken from survey of 1,009 Australian adults conducted in October 2022.

For more information, please contact:  

Phillip Portman | 0437 384 471 | [email protected]

Compare the Market is a comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We make it Simples for Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy insurance, energy and travel products from a range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool helps you look for a range of products that may suit your needs and benefit your back pocket.

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avatar of author: Phillip Portman

Written by Phillip Portman

When he’s not busy writing, Phillip can usually be found at the movies, playing with his Italian Greyhound Wilma, hanging out with his cockatiel Tiki, or talking about everything pop culture. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Journalism and has previously written about health, entertainment, and lifestyle for various publications. Phillip loves to help others and hopes that people learn something new from his articles.

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