ONLINE SCAMS TAKE $3.8 MILLION TOLL ON AUSSIE BUSINESSES

ONLINE SCAMS TAKE $3.8 MILLION TOLL ON AUSSIE BUSINESSES
AUSTRALIA's competition watchdog has revealed today that more than 6,000 businesses were attacked by online scams in 2016, as a result losing a combined $3.8 million.

In its Targeting Scams report, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that losses incurred because of online scams increased by almost 31 per cent in this past year.

According to the report, cons raking in the highest amounts include computer hacks, fake investment schemes and buying and selling scams.

The ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper has warned businesses to scrutinise offers carefully, as these kinds of scams are becoming more advanced in their tactics and their regularity is on the rise.

"Attacks on businesses where scammers try to trick, deceive or manipulate businesses into sending money or divulging confidential information continue to increase in both frequency and sophistication," says Schaper.

"We're seeing steep increases in scammers contacting businesses to swindle them out of their money with varying types of scams.

"The vast majority (85 per cent) of scammers make contact with businesses via email or phone, so it's important for any business to be aware that these scams are out there in the community and to scrutinise any requests they receive for payment or sensitive information."

Schaper says small businesses with fewer than 20 staff are the most vulnerable to scammers, and accounted for over half of reported losses in 2016.

The report comes as victims continue to reel from the effects of the recent WannaCry ransomware scam, which hit hundreds of thousands of organisations including hospitals, governments and companies around the world last week.

"As recent events with the WannaCry ransomware scam demonstrates, businesses can be just as vulnerable to scams as anyone else in the community," says Dr Schaper.

Scamwatch advises that businesses should be most vigilant in protecting themselves against ransomware, business email compromise scams and investment scams.

Approaches about how to protect businesses have been outlined by Scamwatch and involve scrutinising offers and requests for payment, frequently backing up computer data to an external drive and ensuring the installation of firewalls and anti-virus software.

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