Safeguard Your Business: Aussies Lost $2.7 Billion to Scams

9 May, 2024

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed Australian’s lost over $2.7 billion to scams in 2023. This insight comes from the Targeting Scams report, which indicates a decrease in annual losses for the first time in seven years. This positive shift follows the launch of the National Anti-Scam Centre last year. However, despite this improvement, the total number of scam reports increased year-on-year, rising from 507,000 in 2022 to 601,000 in 2023. It’s crucial to understand the potential impact of these findings and the Government’s response to protect your business.

Key Report Findings  

The ACCC’s latest report combines data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, AFCX, ASIC, and IDCARE, highlighting trends by contact method and scam type. Investment scams stole more than any other type of scam, accounting for more than $1.3 billion in losses. People aged 65 or older experienced the greatest financial losses, and there was a significant 17% increase in scams originating on social media platforms.

Impact on Small Business 

Australian businesses reported a total of $29.5 million lost to scams reported to Scamwatch, which is slightly higher than the previous year. Small businesses were especially impacted, accounting for $17.3 million of the total losses. This shows that scammers continue to target local businesses. The most common scams targeting small businesses were false billing scams, remote access scams, and investment scams. As cyber attacks become more frequent, businesses of all sizes need to implement strong cyber security measures to protect themselves.

Here are the top tips for Australian small businesses to protect against scams:  

  • Stay educated: Your first line of defence against cyber crimes is yourself and your employees. Stay updated on the latest scam tactics and cyber security best practices. 
  • Don’t rush to act: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, so always take your time to evaluate the situation before taking any action. 
  • Protect your accounts: Enhance security measures by using methods like multi-factor authentication, password managers, and minimising shared account usage. 
  • Safeguard your information: Seek guidance from IT professionals to secure your network and implement security software for regular device scans. 

Explore our blog for more simple yet effective cyber security measures tailored for small businesses.

The Government’s Response 

The Australian Government is determined to identify and address vulnerabilities that scammers exploit. Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones stressed this commitment by announcing new mandatory scam codes for banks, telcos, and digital platforms. These codes, enforced with strict penalties for non-compliance, aim to establish Australia as a global leader in scam prevention.

Collaboration among businesses, community organisations, law enforcement, and technology services will empower the National Anti-Scam Centre to develop targeted tools and processes. In 2024, the government-led initiative will also host industry forums to raise awareness about scams affecting small businesses. Businesses can effectively protect themselves against cyber threats by focusing on education and proactive security measures.

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