Financial losses incurred from scam activity in 2021 have already exceeded the cumulative total recorded last year, according to new data from the ACCC.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published its latest Scam Watch data, reporting a sharp increase in scam activity over the month of August, up 40 per cent from July to 40,891 incidents.
Identity theft scams inflicted the most damage, responsible for $2.2 million in financial losses in August, up 500 per cent from $352,590 in losses recorded in July, and over 700 per cent compared with August 2020.
Health and medical product scams also surged — 15 times higher than those recorded in July.
NSW residents were hardest hit incurring $11 million in losses, up 52 per cent from the previous month. Scams targeting Victorian residents also increased, rising 65 per cent over the past month and costing more than $6 million.
In total, financial losses incurred from scam activity over the course of 2021 have now hit $192 million, up from $175 million over the entire 12-month period ending 31 December 2020.
Proofpoint ANZ area vice-president Crispin Kerr, said scammers remain active and diligent, exploiting vulnerabilities associated with COVID-induced lockdowns.
“In August, Australians lost a total of $26.5 million to scams, a devastating blow during what is already a very difficult time for many,” he said.
“Concerningly, the number of scams reported increased significantly and almost doubled compared to the same time last year.
“While it is good to see Australians reporting scams to the ACCC, the sheer volume of scam activity is alarming.”
Kerr urged Australians, particularly the younger demographic, to inform themselves and build resilience.
“We are witnessing an increase in scams targeting younger Australians with a high success rate, and during August Australians aged 35 to 44 were the most financially impacted at a cost of $7 million,” he said.