Scams are reaching New Zealanders and Australians via multiple communications channels on a weekly basis.
We’ve recently conducted research revealing the extent of the scamdemic currently facing New Zealanders and Australians. A quarter of Australians and a third of New Zealanders encounter scams on a weekly basis, and 3 in 4 Australians and 3 in 5 New Zealanders have experienced a spike in attempted scams in the last 12 months.
Historically, email and phone calls have been the main means by which scammers target their victims. Today, that risk has now spread to multiple communications channels, with scams reaching individuals via email, text message, social media, and messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Although our research reveals that most Australians (84%) and New Zealanders (89%) believe they can identify a scam, local coverage from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch and CERT NZ tells a different story: Australians have reported over $295 million lost to scams in 2022 (June), compared with $323.7 million over all of 2021, while New Zealanders have reported a significant $3.7 million in financial losses to scams in the first quarter of 2022.
Stephen Kho, Cybersecurity Expert at Avast says, “We are in the midst of a scamdemic, and there is a clear disconnect between Australians’ and New Zealanders’ perceived confidence in ability to identify a scam and the increasing amount of money being lost to scams every year. In reality, this is being further fuelled by our own fear of embarrassment, with roughly half of Australians and New Zealanders admitting they would feel embarrassed if they fell for a scam despite the prevalence and sophistication of some of these scams, as scammers get sharper with their tools and scams become increasingly more targeted to individuals’ situations.”
Our research shows that around 9 in 10 respondents agree that online scams are becoming much more sophisticated, and about half of the respondents feel that scams are increasingly becoming more personal and targeted. Many admit that they would be more likely to fall for a scam that addresses them personally by name.
“The best tool we have for combating this scamdemic is to make a unified effort to speak up about our experiences to help educate others on what to look out for, as scammers become craftier and target us in new ways every day,” Kho says.
To help educate digital citizens around scams and trigger important conversations and knowledge sharing with family and friends, we’ve created the Scamdemic Centre.
The vast majority of both Australians and New Zealanders agree that there needs to be more education around how to avoid falling for a scam, and our Scamdemic Centre is aimed at playing a role in that while also encouraging individuals to share their experiences to further educate the wider digital community and help tackle this ever-growing issue.
Importantly, people are speaking up about their experiences being scammed. Kimberley, who lives in Wollongong, Australia, shares her experience with a crypto scam that she encountered on TikTok. “I lost over $1,000 through the social media app, TikTok. Going through TikTok, I was being targeted by content creators pushing AI marketing who were showing their profit margins made from their investments. After some time of following one of these creators and seeing how much money was made and how easy it was to take your earnings out of the account, I decided to invest,” said Kimberley.
She goes on to describe how she lost $1,000 AUD through the scam, explaining, “They only accepted cryptocurrency, and I created an account and transferred over $1,000 AUD in cryptocurrency. It wasn’t until I tried to transfer the money out of the account that I realized it was a scam, as I wasn’t able to take money out of the account. I tell my friends and family to not trust what they see on social media if it seems too good to be true.”
The three main reasons that Australians and New Zealanders believe scams are becoming increasingly difficult to spot are as follows:
Australians and New Zealanders also recognize that people are getting complacent with their online security (44% and 51%, respectively), but with digital security products like Avast One, this is easily rectified.
Together, we can destigmatize the experience of being scammed so we can all live safer online lives.
The survey was conducted by Pureprofile on behalf of Avast, between 6th June 6-13, 2022, and between June 6-8, 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 1,005 respondents in New Zealand aged 18-65+ years old and 1,010 respondents in Australia aged 18-65+ years old, respectively.
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