Australians urged to remain vigilant as scam activity rises
The AFP is urging Australians to be cautious about unsolicited text messages, phone calls and emails this Scams Awareness Week (7-11 November).
The warning comes as the volume and severity of cyber attacks – including scams, ransomware and business email compromise – continues to increase across the globe.
Australia’s relative prosperity to other parts of the world and widespread internet connectivity make it an attractive target for cybercriminals seeking to maximise their profits.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commissioner (ACCC) reported Australians lost about $2 billion to scams in 2021, which was an 84 per cent increase compared to the previous year. The average loss in each instance was $12,742.
AFP Commander Cybercrime Operations Chris Goldsmid said cybercrime was the ‘break-and-enter’ of the 21st Century and scams, and cyber attacks more broadly, were on the rise as more services and the storing of personal data move online.
“Recent cyber attacks on several major businesses resulted in the release of personal data belonging to thousands of Australians, leaving them vulnerable to more targeted attacks,” Commander Goldsmid said.
“The tools and tactics of cybercriminals continue to evolve, but so does the AFP. The establishment of the AFP Cyber Command at the start of this year has already led to 35 disruption activities against criminal syndicates or particular scams.
“Protecting our community online has never been more important and we will continue to work alongside our law enforcement and industry partners to keep Australians safe in the online environment.
“The AFP-led Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre (JPC3), a joint law enforcement-industry partnership, launched Operation Hurricane and Operation Guardian in response to the Optus data breach, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to helping the victims of cybercrime.”
In response to the growing threat of scams, the Australian Government committed $9.9 million in seed funding to prepare for the establishment of a National Anti-Scams Centre.
The centre will be led by the ACCC, in collaboration with the AFP and other government agencies, to provide the Australian community with a dedicated body to protect and inform Australians on the dangers of scams.
Prevention and education remain the most effective ways to mitigate the threat and cost of cybercrime.
“We know the most common ways scammers are reaching out to victims are by phone calls, text messages and emails, which is why we need Australians to remain alert to any suspicious contact they receive,” Commander Goldsmid said.
“If something doesn’t feel right, take the time to look a little deeper. There are a lot of tell-tale signs of a scam that can be picked up on when you look closely, such as poor grammar, an incorrect email address or suspicious links.”
“Every report we receive helps us to paint the broader cyber threat picture which ultimately allows us to prevent others from falling victim to the same attacks.”
Those who believe they have fallen victim to cybercrime should immediately contact ReportCyber at report.cyber.gov.au.
For more practical cyber safety tips, visit www.cyber.gov.au.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297