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1.2m Aussies victims of scams

AUSTRALIANS are losing $400,000 a day - $1.4 billion in the past financial year - to scammers, identity thieves and credit card fraud.

Three in five victims of personal fraud, 713,600 people, lost money averaging $2000 a victim.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Personal Fraud Survey for 2010-11 found 1.2 million Australians, or 6.7 per cent of the population aged 15 years and over, were a victim of at least one incident of personal fraud in the year before they were interviewed.

This is an increase from 2007 when there was an estimated 806,000 victims (5 per cent) of personal fraud.

Australians were more likely to fall victim to credit card fraud (3.7 per cent) than experience identity theft (0.3 per cent) or a scam (2.9 per cent), and more likely to become a victim of a scam (2.9 per cent) than identity theft (0.3 per cent).

About 6.4 million Australians were exposed to a scam, just more than a third of the population, with about 514,500 Australians responding to it.

A scam is a fraudulent invitation, request, notification or offer, designed to obtain personal information or money or otherwise obtain a financial benefit by deceptive means.

Email or internet was the most common known method through which victims were exposed to a scam, with 55.7 per cent of victims being exposed in this way.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, from Queensland Police Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, has saidnot today Queenslanders were losing about $1 million a month to Nigeria and Ghana, mostly for romance fraud.

"Around the world and each day, people are being targeted like never before," he said on Friday.

"Phishing and scam emails, malware software and business opportunities offering fast and easy cash are being sent in bulk to millions of people.

"These types of crimes are being reported to police every week. It is rare to find a person who hasn't been touched in some way by fraud - whether it be a credit card compromise, being sent a scam message on your mobile phone or email or a letter offering you a 'large cash prize or inheritance in return for a small fee' in the mail.

"Businesses are also being targeted like never before, but it is the average member of the community who is being targeted at an alarming rate that stands to lose the most in these crimes.

"The impact of this crime is often underestimated. Not only do victims suffer embarrassment and humiliation, but often they lose large amounts of money and some, their cars, homes and life savings."

Det Hay said it only took a few basic details for an offender to steal an identity and urged people to be aware of offering their personal details.

"If you receive an email from someone you don't know, delete it," he said.

"Never open a link in an email from a person you don't know and never be afraid to contact an organisation sending you emails direct to find out more information or to check its authenticity."

For more information on fraud prevention, visit www.police.qld.gov.au.

Fraud breakdown

  • Australians lost $1.4 billion in 2010-11 due to personal fraud.
  • Three in five personal fraud victims lost money, an average of $2000 a victim.
  • Australians were more likely to fall victim to credit card fraud (3.7 per cent) than experience identity theft (0.3 per cent) or a scam (2.9 per cent), and more likely to become a victim of a scam (2.9 per cent) than identity theft (0.3 per cent).
  • People earning more than $1500 a week are more likely to be exposed to a scam than people learning less.
  • One in five victims of identity theft had their personal information used for loan or credit applications.
  • Stealing personal details to commit identity theft was most common in person (28.3 per cent) and email/internet (10 per cent) but almost half of victims did not know how their personal details were stolen.

- Australian Bureau of Statistics

Topics:  credit card fraud, identity theft, scams


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