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Westpac encourages Australians to be alert as scam activity peaks during COVID-19

4 September 2021


Westpac is encouraging Australians to be wary of potential scams with new research today revealing more than 1.2 million Australians have been scammed in the past 12 months1.


Younger generations were nearly twice as likely to have been targeted during COVID-19, with one in ten (10%) of those under the age of 30 saying they were impacted by a scam in the past year, compared to just 6 per cent of their older counterparts.


The research also revealed the scams increasingly targeting Australians – including investment scams which have almost doubled (+180%), and remote access scams which are now over three times more prevalent (+370%) than they were in 2020.


As Australians spend more time at home, digital channels are being used more to target potential victims, including through emails (72%), social media (40%), websites (36%) and smartphone apps (33%).


The research comes as new Westpac data2 shows the number of reported scams from customers has doubled in the past year.


Westpac Head of Fraud, Ben Young, said it is important Australians remain alert as we continue to spend more time at home.


“The scams we’re seeing are becoming incredibly sophisticated, and while you might think older age groups are most susceptible, our data actually shows scams are impacting people of all ages,” he said.


“With more people working from home and shopping online during restrictions, coupled with the fact it’s also tax season, we’re seeing a rise in scams impersonating businesses or that threaten you into sharing personal information.


“We’ve also seen a big uplift in investment scams where false celebrity endorsements or lucrative cryptocurrency offers are being used to entice anyone who might be seeking additional income or quick cash returns.


“As we continue to face into lockdowns, it’s an important time to be extra careful and become educated against those looking to take advantage,” Mr Young said.


While the research found Australians will lose an average $3,000 when scammed, the majority (67%) of those who were scammed in the past year suffered a loss of $500 or less.


“The financial and emotional impact of being scammed cannot be understated,” Mr Young said.


“Each month Westpac intervenes on more than 6,000 transactions and prevents more than $2 million being lost to scammers across its banking channels – protecting customers whether they’re using mobile or online banking, making online purchases or transacting in one of our branches,” Mr Young added.


Information about the latest scams are updated regularly at www.westpac.com.au/scams. To report a scam or to seek assistance, customers can contact us on 132 032.

How to stay protected from scammers

  • Turn on mobile push notifications so you can track your bank transactions in real-time. If something looks suspicious, you can report it straight away.
  • Westpac customers can access a Digital Card through their mobile banking app which provides extra security when shopping online through a dynamic 3-digit CVC code that changes every 24 hours.
  • If a card is lost or stolen, customers can apply an instant block through Westpac’s online and mobile banking to prevent any unauthorised purchases and have a new card issued.
  • Some smartphones offer a feature that will warn you if an unknown caller is a potential scammer.

 

Media enquiries:

westpacmediarelations@westpac.com.au


About the research

The research was commissioned by Westpac and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 2,045 Australians aged 18+ with surveys distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas and conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel, completed on 4 July 2021. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
 

1 6% of Australian adults (aged 18+) have been scammed in the past 12 months.

2 Westpac Scam Stoppers Snapshot, August 2021.