Key scam statistics 2020: The impact of scams on individuals in a COVID-19 environment
It is well known that the COVID-19 pandemic was (and continues to be) more than just a health and economic crisis. Australians have been hit hard, with a year of unprecedented challenges. As the virus swept across the country in early 2020, parts of Australia were quickly locked down, causing individuals and businesses to make drastic changes to the way they lived and worked. As Australia went into its first recession in 30 years, thousands of people lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently.
The volatile economy has inevitably influenced the nature of crime and fraud by creating new ways for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities in both individuals and businesses across Australia. The country has seen a huge increase in criminal activity by way of scams and phishing attacks, preying on individuals who were unexpectedly forced to seek financial assistance from government incentives or financial institutions throughout these uncertain times.
A recent report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that Australians lost a total of $851 million to scams in 2020, a massive increase of 23% since 2019. The report found that many scams that had not previously come to large financial losses increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as online shopping scams, remote access scams and threat-based scams.
We cover the key statistics and types of scams outlined in this report below, or you can read the full report here.
See how Stirdie is fighting fraud and scams by secure, blockchain-based messaging tools here.
Key scam statistics
- There was a combination of over 44,164 scam reports made in 2020, with Australians losing over $850 million.
- The 3 scams with the highest reported losses in 2020 were Investment scams ($328 million), romance scams ($131 million) and business email compromise ($128 million).
- The 3 most reported scams of 2020 were phishing (44,000), identity theft (21,000) and threat-based scams (32,000).
- The number of scams reported in 2020 was 29% higher than those reported in 2019
- Phone (47.7%), email (22%) and text messages (15%) were the top 3 ways scammer made contact with people in 2020.
- The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in losses and reports, with health and medical scam reported losses increased more than 2000% compared to 2019, reaching over $3.9 million.
- There were over 24,000 reports of government impersonation scams, with losses of $1.9 million. The most common government agencies impersonated in 2020 were the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Department of Home Affairs and Services Australia.
- Scam losses reported by businesses increased by 260% to $18 million from $5 million in 2019.
- The most common payment methods used in scams were bank transfer ($97 million lost) and Bitcoin ($26.5 million lost).