Research released today by Commonwealth Bank shows the extent of scams in Australia, with three in five (60%) Australians reporting they have personally been a victim of a scam, or know someone who has.

The CommBank study looked at Australians’ attitudes towards scams, how they would feel if they were victim to a scam, and how scams have become more sophisticated in recent years. The research revealed almost three in five (57%) Australians say they have become more concerned about scams over the last 12 months.

The launch of the research coincides with the launch of a new ‘CommBank Safe’ national advertising campaign, which is part of a broad, longer-term initiative to raise awareness and help protect Australians from scams. 

CBA General Manager of Group Fraud, James Roberts, said: “Recent events have served as a reminder that scams and fraud continue to rise. The CommBank Safe campaign is a call to arms encouraging every Australian to stay safe. Through this bank-wide initiative, we hope to contribute to increasing national awareness and resilience against this potentially devastating issue, particularly amongst our most vulnerable customers.”

As part of the campaign the bank has also created a simple guide to help Australians detect scams and fraud: ‘Stop. Check. Reject. 

  • Stop. When you get an unusual call or text. Real organisations won’t put you under pressure to act instantly.
  • Check. Contact the organisation the message claims to be from or check with someone you trust.
  • Reject. If it’s not them, block the texter, delete the email or hang up on the caller. Change your passwords.

“Companies, including the banks and their Security departments, should never ask for a PIN, password or access codes over the phone, email or text, nor should they ever ask for access to your devices. If you receive any contact from someone claiming to be from a service provider asking for this information, call that organisation immediately to verify before taking any action,” added Mr Roberts.

New CommBank research showed that despite the prevalence of scams in Australia, a third (33%) of Australians who fell victim to a scam did not report it due to various factors, including feeling like it was their fault (41%), believing that it wouldn’t be worth the effort (33%), and feeling embarrassed or ashamed (26%).

“As scammers become more sophisticated, devious and harder to identify than ever, we want to help our customers feel safe when banking on their devices, knowing we’re doing whatever we can to protect, detect and resolve issues they encounter. If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, call us to see if we can help,” said Mr Roberts.

The research also revealed that the increased concern could be due to 64% of Australians saying they receive more scam attempts today than 12 months ago, and 57% saying scams have become more sophisticated and harder to identify as fake. In fact, Australians revealed they receive, on average, five scam calls, emails or messages a week, equating to over 250 attempts a year.

Community awareness and action are also rising with more than eight in ten (84%) of those surveyed saying they would be confident in their ability to recognise and avoid scams. 65% are cautious about calls from numbers they don’t recognise, 57% check before clicking on links received via text unless from a friend, and 54% check written materials for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Mr Roberts said: “We’ve seen an increase in scam attempts on Aussies in the past few years, with the ACCC reporting $2 billion was lost in 2021 alone. Scammers are experts in what they do, and regularly play on emotions and prey on people’s vulnerabilities.

“Despite four in ten (42%) Australians feeling embarrassed about falling victim to a scam, scams can happen to any individual and are unfortunately a common occurrence among vulnerable individuals.

“The research findings show that Australians are becoming more aware of scam behaviours, and as a result, are more cautious about their activities. Because of this, we’re helping Australians stay one step ahead by introducing in-app two-way push notifications, as well as biometric security to stop scammers from the beginning,” he said”

CBA’s Biometric Security is an AI feature that helps identify potential scammers by learning a user’s NetBank usual online behaviour, and alerts the security team if there are any changes to this behaviour which may be a signal someone else has accessed the account. Additionally, the in-app two-way push notifications will come direct from the CBA app, eliminating the risk of tapping a link via SMS that might have been sent from a scammer.

CBA offers protection for unauthorised transactions and preventative features such as Lock, Block, Limit available in the CommBank App; monitoring of suspicious transactions; third party notifications; dedicated security centre; and a safe and savvy guide, and a significant community awareness campaign. The bank has also increased their investment in combating scammers to help Australians fight back.

Detailed findings of the scams survey are below:

  • Six in ten Aussies have been a victim of a scam (or know someone who has been), with men more likely to have experienced a scam and suffered a loss (41% to 30%).
  • When Australians consider how they felt or would feel if they were scammed and suffered a loss, the most common reactions are anger (71%), devastation/sadness (50%) and embarrassment/shame (44%).
  • Nearly six in ten (57%) Australians say that they have become more concerned about scams over the last 12 months.
  • Encouragingly, more than eight in ten (84%) Australians say they are confident in their ability to recognise and avoid scams, with younger Australians more likely to be very confident in their ability.
  • Aussies believe that scams have changed over the past 12 months, with the most commonly cited changes including an increase in scam messages/calls (64%) and scams becoming more sophisticated, and therefore harder to identify as fake, with prompts looking more real (57%).
  • On average, Australians say they receive 4.98 scam calls/emails/SMS/social media messages per week (or almost one per day, or equivalent to 258.96 messages per year).
  • Australians are most likely to contact their bank if they were to fall victim to a scam (79%), followed by reporting the scam to the police (63%). Interestingly, 12% of Aussies would contact the scammer directly.

To find out more visit CommBank Safe

Important information

This study was conducted online by YouGov Galaxy during September 2022 using a sample of 1,030 people aged 18+ across Australia. Age, gender and region quotas were applied to the sample. Results were post-weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.