Why are there so many online and phone scams at the moment?

Why are there so many online and phone scams at the moment?

Over the last few months, Australians have been receiving a variety of different types of scams, either through phone calls or text messages. Usually, the messages want you to click a link, which will then take you to a site (often fake branded with known companies), to then get the user to download software, which ends up being malware. These types of scams are called ‘Flubot’, and Australians this year have been a dramatic increase in prevalence. 

Sometimes the aim of the scam is financial fraud, but it can also be malicious software (malware) that targets devices with the intention of stealing online banking credentials from your device. 

As of September this year, Australians have lost $63.6 million to scams involving unsolicited calls or text messages in 2021. 

Examples of the scams 

Over the last few months, there has been an increase in Flubot scams, specifically sending a text message, suggesting the user of the device has unopened voicemail notification. Within the message, there is a link, and the user is prompted to click it, to then ‘listen’ to the (fake) ‘voice message’. There is a good chance you might also have received many scam messages (especially last month) about ‘deliveries’ and ‘packages’ through text messages. That particular scam led to more than 13,000 reports in just eight weeks, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

The impact on vulnerable communities in Australia

Scams have significant impacts on vulnerable people and communities, and the data has shown: 

  • People who speak English as a second language have lost over $6.5 million to phone scams so far this year, after losing $7.8 million to phone scams for the entirety of 2020
  • Australians aged 65 and over incurred losses of $20.5 million from phone scams, making up around 32 percent of all losses across Australia for this year alone 
  • First Nations people made 1,515 reports of phone scams with losses of $223,947 in 2020 

What to do if you have received a scam message or call? 

Report the scam ACCC’s Scamwatch here. The website also has advice on what to do if your personal information or device has been compromised.

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