Business scams increased significantly in 2016

Peter Terlato 19 May 2017

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Aussie businesses lost $3.8 million to scams last year.

Australia's competition regulator reveals 6,000 businesses were targeted by scammers in 2016. The latest report shows, on average, these business were fleeced around $10,000 each.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Targeting Scams Report 2016 found business losses to scams in 2016 were around 31% higher than the previous year.

Most scammers (85%) contact businesses via email or by phone, purporting to be someone they're not.

The greatest losses suffered were a result of computer hacking, fake investment schemes and buying and selling scams, according to the report.

Below are the top three scams the ACCC says businesses should be aware of:

  • Ransomware: These scams trick a victim into downloading a virus that infects a business' computer systems and prevents users from accessing them until extortion payments are made to unlock it.
  • Business email compromise scams: Scammers gain access to a business' email address, contacting suppliers and advising them of new pay arrangements, requesting wire transfers to a new account.
  • Investment scams: These scams are promoted as business opportunities and promise inflated returns but are, in reality, nothing more than a method used to drain a business of its funds.

ACCC deputy chair Michael Schaper said ransomware scams targeting businesses were not uncommon.

"These scams often result in one-off losses that a business can recover from. However, hacking, malware and targeted phishing now present significant financial and reputational risks to business," he said.

"Small businesses with fewer than twenty staff are, in particular, the most vulnerable to scammers and accounted for nearly sixty percent of reported losses."

Earlier this year we reported scammers were using the expansion of Amazon in Australia as bait in a fraudulent email that falsely claimed the company was giving away $500 gift vouchers to customers.

If you've been targeted by scammers, it's important to contact the relevant authorities and report it.

Learn what steps you can take to ensure you and your business don't fall victim to scams.

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