Senior Australians are being urged to stay vigilant against scams, as the total cost swindled from older consumers skyrockets to over $11 million last year.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received 16,915 reports from seniors that had been scammed in 2021.
Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said $6.7 million had been lost through false billing scams, where scammers request payment through fake invoices for goods or services which were never ordered.
“In one case, a consumer lost $760,000 when their mortgage broker’s email had been compromised,” Ms Petinos said.
Online shopping scams cost Australian seniors $1.8 million last year. A common example of this is the purchase of a motor home online via fake websites.
Ms Petinos said any scammers targeting older Australians will be met with the full force of the law.
“Targeting vulnerable Australians is abhorrent behaviour. Fair Trading has a zero-tolerance approach to any fraudsters ripping off hard-working people,” Ms Petinos said.
“Be wary of any requests for money. Another red flag is being asked to transfer money via an unusual payment method such as preloaded debit cards, gift cards or virtual currency.”
Minister for Seniors Mark Coure said it is disgusting to see criminals deliberately target society’s older people.
“Seniors deserve better than to be preyed on by low-life criminals and defrauded of their life savings,” Mr Coure said.
“Older people have worked their whole lives to make NSW the great state it is today. Anyone taking advantage of seniors should have the book thrown at them.”
NSW Fair Trading has a guide with up-to-date information for seniors about their consumer rights and how to deal with unscrupulous operators. To read the guide, visit: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/help-centre/youth-and-seniors/seniors.
The Aging and Disability Commission also has a range of resources available to help people better understand abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people and adults with disability. For more information