Stay safe against scams

More money was lost to scammers in 2017 than in any other year on record.

The ninth annual Targeting Scams report shows that more than 200,000 scam reports were submitted to agencies in 2017, with record losses totalling $340 million.

The report found that investment scams were the most common and Australians aged 55-64 reported the highest amount of losses and those over 65 lodged the highest number of scam reports.

Some scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to obtain our money or personal details, making them hard to spot. Particularly when scammers impersonate Government agencies like the Australian Tax Office and threaten people with outstanding bills.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) advises people to be alert and protect themselves from being scammed by following a couple of tips:

- be alert to the fact that scams exist, particularly when dealing with uninvited contact by mail, email or over the phone

- check the legitimacy of someone, ask them 'What is your name and what company do you represent?', 'Who owns your company' and 'What is your company's address?'

- know who you're dealing with, do some research

- do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails – delete them if you're unsure

- don't respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access, just hang up

- keep your personal details, mobile devices and computers secure, by updating security software, using password protection and keeping passwords and pin numbers in a safe place

- choose your passwords carefully, make sure they are hard to guess

- beware of any requests for your details or money

- be careful when shopping online, particularly if something seems too good to be true.

If you think you have been scammed, contact your financial institution or the ACCC's Scamwatch on 1300 302 502.