Scam reports double in 2010: ACCC

Online and telephone scams the biggest culprits according to latest findings

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reported a doubling of scam-related reports in 2010.

Some 42,000 scam-related reports were received last year compared to around 20,000 in 2009 the competition regulator said.

Online scams remained the largest method of delivery, the ACCC said, growing from 14,000 in 2009 to more than 19,000 in 2010.

Telephone scams grew from around 2,000 in 2009 to more than 14,000 reports in 2010.

According to ACCC deputy chair, Peter Kell, many of the telephone scams were traced overseas as scammers took advantage of free voice over internet services.

2010 also saw an increase in scams impersonating government departments or major businesses.

“Some of these scams are quite sophisticated, with the use of logos and language that look and sound genuine,” he said.

The report also noted that more Australians are also prepared to report scams even if they have not lost money.

“Around 16 per cent of consumers and small businesses who reported scams to the ACCC suffered monetary losses, ranging from a few dollars to several million," he said.

"While scam reports to the ACCC increased, the amount reported lost in 2010 was $63 million, down slightly from 2009.

”Nonetheless, we recognise that the losses reported to the ACCC represent only a part of the overall cost to the Australian community, as many scams go unreported and indirect losses are also significant.”

The report was released this week to tie in with National Consumer Fraud Week which focuses on the impact of scams on individual victims.

It comes in the wake of the Queensland flood scams where the ACCC found a number of telemarketers were posing as charities to illicit money from people wanting to donate to flood victims.

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