Job scams impacting most vulnerable

Man in hoodie scamming on computer.| Newsreel
Job scams have increased by more than 150 percent in the past year | Photo: Brian A Jackson (iStock)

More Australians are falling victim to job scams as people look for part-time work to ease cost-of living pressures.

A report from the National Anti-Scam Centre showed people lost almost $25m from job scams last year, a rise of more than 150 percent.

The Trending Scams report compiles data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX), IDCARE and ASIC.

It showed those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities were disproportionally impacted by job scams, as were people looking for part-time work or seeking to supplement their income.

The report  found Australians made more than 601,000 scam reports in 2023, an 18.5 percent increase on 2022.

In terms of financial losses, investment scams continued to cause the most harm ($1.3 billion), followed by remote access scams ($256 million) and romance scams ($201.1 million).

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said despite the report showing an overall decrease in reported losses, dropping 13 percent to 2.74 billion in 2023, it showed some concerning trends.

Older people suffered the greatest harm at the hands of scammers, with people over the age of 65 the only age group to experience an increase in reported losses.

Ms Lowe said losses for people over the age of 65 increased by 13.3 percent last year to $120 million.

Text messages were the most reported contact method with 109,621 reports (37.3 percent increase from 2022).

However, scam calls resulted in the highest reported losses at $116 million.

Scams in which contact occurred via social media resulted in the second highest in reported losses, increasing by 16.5 percent to $93.5 million.

“Scammers are financial criminals who use sophisticated technology and psychology to rob Australians of their money and personal information,” Ms Lowe said.

“Reports to Scamwatch indicate scammers are targeting older Australians with retirement savings, who may be looking for investment opportunities.”

Top tips to avoid scams

  • Don’t rush to act. Scammers will create a sense of urgency.
  • Ask yourself if you really know who you are communicating with. Scammers can impersonate others and lie about who they are – especially online.
  • Act quickly if something feels wrong. If you have shared financial information or transferred money, contact your bank immediately.
  • Help others by reporting to Scamwatch.