Home | News | Peak body calls for action to protect older Australians from scams
Peak body COTA Australia has asked for government intervention in the upcoming budget following a rise of scams.

Peak body calls for action to protect older Australians from scams

A peak body is calling on the government to take immediate steps to protect older Australians, following an alarming rise in financial scams.

Following a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), people over the age of 65 suffered the greatest harm, with an increase in reported losses in 2023.

The report found that text messages were the most reported contact method, with a 37.3 per cent increase; however, scam calls resulted in the highest reported loss at $116m.

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said the figures showed that scammers targeted older Australians with retirement savings who might be looking for investment opportunities.

"We know of a recent case where an elderly woman lost her life savings after seeing a deepfake Elon Musk video on social media, clicking the link and registering her details online," Ms Lowe said.

"She was assigned a 'financial adviser' and could see on an online dashboard.

"She was apparently making returns but she couldn't withdraw her money."

The findings from the report have prompted COTA Australia's chief, Patricia Sparrow, to call for the government to step in and force social media platforms and financial institutions to do better.

"It's unacceptable that so many older Australians are falling prey to scammers through various online platforms," Ms Sparrow said.

"The banks' new Scam Safe Accord has seen the banks introduce IT systems that interrupt people making a questionable transaction to consider if their money is going where they believe it is going.

"It’s a welcome step, but more should be done."

Introduced late last year, the Scam Safe Accord has directly impacted how Australians bank through systems such as biometrics, transfer warnings, and high-risk transfer limits.

However, as the nation moves into a cashless society, experts want more to be done – especially for older Australians.

"Older Australians are being duped out of millions of dollars every year," Ms Sparrow said.

"There are critical gaps that remain, including the need for Government to legislate consumer protections to ensure banks reimburse victims of financial crimes in the same way they protect people from fraud.

"It's time for government and other the key players such as banks and online platforms to step up and take responsibility."

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