Scammers stole nearly $4.7 million from Australian businesses in 2017 according to the ACCC’s latest Targeting scams (link is external) report – a 23 per cent increase compared to 2016.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch service received 5432 reports from businesses about scams in 2017. Businesses that fell victim to scammers lost an average of nearly $11,000.
“Scammers don’t discriminate and businesses have what scammers want: money. They’ll use a variety of cons to swindle busy workers and it can be very devastating to a business’s bottom line,” said Cryptoloc Technology and YDF Founder.
Small businesses with fewer than 20 staff were most likely to be targeted by scammers and accounted for more than 50 per cent of reports to the ACCC. Businesses were most likely to be targeted with false billing scams (1323 reports), while employment and investment scams caused the most losses at nearly $1.7 million.
“We’ve seen a worrying and dramatic jump in losses reported to us about these two scams. False billing scams are where a scammer tries to trick a business into paying fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies. The scammers are very aggressive and persistent in demanding payment,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“With employment and investment scams, scammers offer services commonly used by businesses such as web page development, search engine optimisation, small business loans and business directory listings. The business signs up to what seems like a good deal but quickly discover they receive no service and that the offer was not legitimate.”
Jamie Wilson from Your Digital File says small business should use a platform like Your Digital File to securely store and share documents and sensitive information. It is a cost effective way to secure data and still be productive in the office. Small businesses cannot afford huge security solutions so finding platforms like Your Digital file are critical”.
“It’s vital Australian businesses are aware that scammers are actively out there targeting them and to ensure they have strong processes in place to avoid becoming victims,” Jamie said.
“We had a local copy shop experience their first denial of service. Hackers gained access to a desktop when they sent an email and the owner clicked on the link. They then told the owner that they would not be able to access any of the data on their computer if they did not pay $1500 to the criminals. Fortunately, the desktop did not have any client files nor work on the computer and were able to ignore the demand. However, had it been on the work computer, client files and design work for over 5 years would have been lost”.
Australian businesses are encouraged to visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to learn more about scams targeting them. They can follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts.
They can also sign up to the ACCC’s Small Business Information Network to receive emails about new or updated resources, enforcement action, changes to Australia’s competition and consumer laws, events, surveys and scams relevant to the small business sector.