More than half of scams directed at Australians last year came in phone calls or text messages, says the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).
The consumer watchdog’s fifth annual report on scam activity in Australia shows nearly 92,000 scam-related contacts were received by the ACCC in 2013, an increase of nearly 10%.
Overall, scam losses reported totalled $89,136,975, an almost 5% decrease. However, actual losses are likely to be higher as many scams go unreported.
Half (52%) were delivered via phone and text message, with combined total financial losses of $29,391,887.
Telephone calls remained the most popular delivery method, with reports and losses rising in parallel by nearly 13% and 14% respectively and losses totalling $3,335,763.
Scams delivered by text message decreased by around 35%, while reported losses more than doubled to $1,848,805.
However, scams delivered online (40%) caused the greatest financial harm with associated losses totalling $41,781,071.
While contacts of reports delivered via email increased by nearly 14%, financial losses almost halved (49%).
This could indicate scammers are using email to fish for personal information but turning to other online communication platforms such as social networking sites for monetary gain.
In 2013 dating and romance scams moved to number one position in terms of financial losses, with $25,247,418 reported lost.
The ACCC observed a significant increase in phishing and identity theft scams, with reports increasing by over 73% to 15,264 contacts.
Actual financial losses remained low, suggesting that scammers are instead seeking personal information for later gain.
This chart shows phone scams are the most common method but online is increasing:
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