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ABA launches new awareness campaign as scams grow

22 September 2021

As more Australians experience financial scams, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) has launched a new campaign to raise awareness on the increasing threat of scams, warning Australians to be on the lookout for scam phone calls, texts and emails.

Last year in Australia $851 million was lost to scams. In the year to July, 84,000 scam calls were reported to Scam Watch, which is an increase of 145 per cent on the same period from the previous year (34,000).

The ABA campaign has been launched off the back of new data from the ABA, which reveals 37 per cent of Australians have lost money, or know a close friend or family member who has lost money to a scam. 

“Scammers don’t target one group over another, they target all people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia.”

ABA CEO Anna Bligh

Anna Bligh, Chief Executive Officer at the ABA, said with all the positives from the pivot to digital during COVID-19, one negative has been the rapid increase in sophisticated scams.

“Scammers don’t target one group over another, they target all people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia. Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you are not expecting it,” Ms Bligh said.

66% of Australians fend off a scam every week

“This campaign is about assisting Australians to help make them aware of scammer tactics, so they can protect themselves and their friends and family.

“Banks have made large investments and employed more people to help detect and disrupt scams in real time, 24 hours a day, and they’re working to protect you and your personal information.”

The new ABA research shows 66 per cent of Australians fend off a scam attempt every week and 29 per cent of Australians report fending off a scam attempt every day.  

The ABA has launched the awareness campaign as a result of banks reporting a noticeable increase in scam activity since the start of the pandemic. 

The campaign focuses on three simple messages that can help keep customers safe.

If it’s from someone real, like your bank:

  • They’ll never ask for any account or personal details by text or email.
  • They’ll never threaten to cancel your account or arrest you if you don’t pay immediately.
  • If someone does, stop and think. Then just hang up or delete the message.

Banks working with law enforcement and regulators

As well as customer education, the ABA has a wider project across the banking sector to facilitate how to better share information with law enforcement, as well as working with regulators and AFCA to ensure laws keep pace with evolving scams.

“Banks are doing all they can to help protect Australians from scams that are coming from across the world. The industry is also working with all key stakeholders to ensure Australians are informed and protected in every way possible,” Ms Bligh said.

The ABA campaign will be seen across radio and digital channels and will run until the end of October.

The radio advertisement has been translated into five languages and will play across multicultural media to communicate essential messages to everyone in the community.

Case study:

Susy’s story – a remote access scam.

Susy, a 62-year-old woman, lost $90,000 to a scammer. Susy was convinced by a man who phoned her, telling her he was from the security department of her telephone company, to provide remote access to her computer for security purposes. He encouraged her to take out expensive anti-malware products and then was unaware when further withdrawals were taken from her bank account.

The scammer, known as Tim, initially convinced Susy to invest in protection software at the total of $9,700, which would help protect her bank accounts, which he said had been accessed by a scammer and needed further protection. Tim continued to follow up Susy with phone calls, convincing her he was there to help and encouraged her to purchase and invest in further products.

Despite the bank phoning Susy to enquire about the scam, Susy was convinced Tim was legitimate. Throughout the process, Tim scammed Susy of $90,000. The bank was only able to retrieve the initial transfer of $9,700.

Read more on Susy, access more resources and get data on the most ‘effective’ scams and how to avoid them.

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