tech news - scams

The year 2023 is predicted to be the worst year on record for scams, with new data revealing a staggering increase of 54% in reported scams compared to the same time last year. As of now, 86,146 scams have been reported this year, compared to 55,902 reported at this time last year.

However, despite the increase in the number of scams, the first quarter (Q1) findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch show early indications that the financial loss to scams is actually down. In Q1 2022, the reported financial loss was $166 million, while in Q1 2023, it has decreased to $142 million.

The monthly average lost to scams in 2023 remains on par with 2022, despite the significant increase in the number of scams. In 2022, the monthly average lost was $47.38 million, and in 2023, it is $47.42 million.

A recent study by Proofpoint, Inc., a leading cybersecurity and compliance company, reveals that conversational text scams were the fastest growing and most prevalent mobile threat globally in the past year, increasing by a staggering 1200%. These text scams have surpassed package delivery scams in terms of prevalence.

In 2022, Australians lost over $568 million to scams, which is almost 50% more than the $323 million lost in 2021. As the Australian Government works on its 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy with the vision of becoming the world’s most cyber secure country by 2030, it is evident that scams continue to pose a significant threat to individuals and businesses alike.

Some key findings from the data include the fact that individuals over 65 years of age continue to be at the forefront of targeted scams, suffering losses totaling over $34.97 million so far this year.

Additionally, while men account for 58.5% ($83.23 million) of total losses compared to women at 40.3% ($57.3 million), women are more likely to report scams, accounting for 51.4% of scam reports compared to 46.4% from men.

Adrian Covich, Senior Director, Systems Engineering, Asia Pacific and Japan at Proofpoint, stated that “2022 was an unprecedented time for cyber attacks in Australia.” The record-breaking year saw significant total losses in history, affecting both small and large businesses as well as individuals in devastating ways.

Scammers have become more sophisticated, employing tactics such as recruitment and investment scams, as well as popular SMS tactics like the ‘hi mum’ scam, to target larger numbers of people at minimal cost.

While the total financial loss is down in 2023, Covich warns that attacks have picked up in pace. He further emphasizes the need for cybersecurity education at both personal and professional levels across the country, and encourages Australians to take responsibility for their cyber safety.

He advises staying informed by following Scamwatch’s alerts throughout the year and provides tips to avoid being scammed, such as never sharing personal or financial information with unknown individuals, not clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders, being cautious of spelling and grammatical errors in messages, communicating only through official channels of organizations, avoiding sharing passwords, and being wary of unexpected phone calls or emails with investment offers or prizes.

Covich urges Australians to utilize Proofpoint’s online resources and follow these tips to protect themselves from falling victim to scams.

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