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“Be wary of ads you see on the internet”: ACCC cautions consumers

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning Aussie shoppers to “be wary of ads you see on the internet” in an effort to raise awareness of the rising cost of scams.

Australians are expected to report losses of more than $532 million to Scamwatch and other government agencies by the end of the year, the ACCC said in a media release on Monday.

This will be the first time scam losses have exceeded half a billion dollars.

The release is part of the ACCC’s National Scams Awareness Week, which runs from August 12-16 and aims to combat people’s notion that they’re too smart to fall for a scam.

“Many people are confident they would never fall for a scam but often it’s this sense of confidence that scammers target,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“People need to update their idea of what a scam is so that we are less vulnerable.”

Scammers have professionalised, Rickard said, with many using call centres with convincing scripts, staff training programs and other corporate performance indicators to boost the effectiveness of their “employees”.

The scams resulting in the highest losses are investment scams, which are prominent on social media, including “Facebook lottery” scams, “Loom” pyramid schemes and cryptocurrency scams.

Cryptocurrency investment scams have seen record losses, with reports to the ACCC alone of $14.76 million between January and July 2019.

Many use social media platforms, fake celebrity endorsements or fake online trading platforms that are made to look legitimate.

“Our advice is to be wary of ads you see on the internet. Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible,” Rickard said.

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