Scams awareness is front of mind during the recent events of mass security breaches from Optus and Medibank - especially during this week of November, national Scams Awareness week. This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Talk Scams’. As Justice Louise Brandeis said, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Here are some excerpts from COBA:

Startling new research released by the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) for Scams Awareness Week reveals that 8 in 10 people have experienced being approached by a cyber-criminal in the past two years, and of those affected a quarter did what was asked of them.

The findings – based on an Essential Research poll of 1094 people - investigated the incidence of scams that ask people to click on a link such as ‘missed delivery’ text messages, hand over personal information such as bank account or credit card details, or send money or goods.

“Our members and the broader banking sector have seen a significant increase in financial crimes targeting customers since the onset of the pandemic,” said COBA CEO Michael Lawrence. “This can have devastating consequences for ordinary Australians, eroding hard earned savings and derailing financial plans.”

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, creating believable scenarios that can be hard to detect. All age groups and demographics are susceptible – higher levels of education did not reduce the likelihood of being a victim of a scam.

“Just as we can’t have police on every street corner, not all scams can be stopped before they reach you. Everyone has a role to play in halting cyber-criminals in their tracks.”
On the positive side, regardless of whether they were a victim, most of those who experienced a form of cybercrime are now more cautious when engaging with emails, texts and calls from unrecognised senders, with women the wariest.

Customer-owned banks care deeply about the impact scams have on people in our community.


Our top five tips to avoid falling victim to a scam follow:

1. If you receive a text message that contains a link, do not click on the link unless you are confident it is legitimate. Regularly install operating system updates and use anti-virus software.

2. Never provide any of your personal or banking details to someone you don’t know and trust, and never provide banking passcodes (including authentication codes received via phone or email) to anyone.

3. If you receive a suspicious request from someone who says they represent an organisation or government agency, call back using details you find in an independent search, rather than details they give you.

4. Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.

5. Anyone who has provided their banking details to a scammer should contact their bank or financial institution immediately.

From 8-12 November the ACCC’s Scamwatch service holds its annual Scams Awareness Week. This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Talk Scams’. COBA is one of the founding members of the Scams Awareness Network, we encourage all Australians to talk to their friends and family about scams.