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1 in 3 Australians have fallen victim to a financial scam

1 in 3 Australians have fallen victim to a financial scam

Almost one third of Australians have been hit by a financial scam, new RateCity research shows.

In a survey of more than 1,000 Australians, 29 per cent of respondents said they’d been scammed. Scams included credit card hacks, identity theft and people who had been tricked into handing over money.

RateCity survey findings:

  • 29% of Australians have been the victim of a financial scam.
  • 38% of people aged 35-44 years said they have been scammed – the highest of all ages, proving it’s not just older Australians who are vulnerable.
  • 65+ was the second most targeted age bracket, with 32% surveyed saying they’d been hit.

Latest figures from ACCC Scamwatch show scams cost Australians $201 million in the past 12 months – an increase of almost $46 million, year-on-year. In just the first three months of this year, Australians have already been scammed out of $63 million.

Sally Tindall, research director at RateCity, said: “It’s something you hope will never happen to you but alarmingly one in three of us have been the victim of a financial scam.

“A lot of people don’t realise how prevalent financial fraud is until they get hit themselves,” she said.

“Stay on your toes because you could be targeted at any time, and the quicker you pick up the fraud, the faster you can put a lid on it.

“Scammers have an array of tactics to catch people off-guard, whether it’s through an unsolicited text message, by hacking into your email or skimming your credit card.

“As painful as they are to keep track of, it’s worth having strong passwords. Also try to avoid using public Wi-Fi and use secure websites when online shopping.

“Check your bank statements regularly, and if you see a suspicious transaction, query it. Nine times out of ten it’s probably just a shop with a trading name you don’t recognise, but it’s that tenth time that makes checking worth all the fuss.

“It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score which you can access anytime. If your score goes down for no reason, you can get a copy of your credit file and see if there’s any suspicious activity on it,” she said.

What to do if you suspect you’ve been hacked?

  • Check your card and bank statements regularly- if you notice any unusual purchases on your statement, report it to your bank. Banks take fraud seriously and will try to recover any lost money for you.
  • Get a free copy of your credit history- check that all personal information and the loans and debts listed are correct. It’s free to request a copy of your credit file every 12 months.
  • Fix any errors- if something is wrong or out of date, contact the reporting agency and ask them to fix it, it’s a free service. If any loans or debts in your report aren’t correct, contact the bank immediately.
  • Report it- it’s important to notify the appropriate agency (this will depend on the type of scam - it could be your bank, the ACCC Scamwatch, ASIC, Centrelink/Medicare, or the Police) so they can investigate and warn the community to take action.

How to protect yourself from financial scams

  • Use strong passwords - to make it harder for scammers to hack.
  • Be careful when shopping online - only shop on websites that you trust and make sure the website is secure. It will show a closed padlock or key in the URL.
  • Check your credit score monthly - if you notice any unexpected changes to your score, it could be a red flag that something is wrong and should be investigated.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi- if using a public Wi-Fi network, don’t send or receive sensitive information or login to your banking or social media accounts.
  • Review your privacy and security settings on social media- – if you use social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram, review your options for privacy.

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This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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