Australian Institute of Criminology

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Consumer fraud survey helping to fight scams

Media Release

03 March 2009

As part of National Consumer Fraud Awareness Week, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) is conducting an online public survey to assist in the fight against personal fraud.

The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce Online Survey has been conducted by the AIC each year since 2006 and is designed to gather information which will help to improve the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of consumer scams.

By gathering information about the scams consumers have received and how they have responded to them, the AIC is able to contribute a valuable knowledge resource for businesses and agencies working together to reduce the incidence and impact of this type of fraud.

More than 900 respondents to the 2008 survey reported that the most common types of scams were notifications of lottery wins, international money transfer requests, phishing (requests to confirm bank account or other personal details), and offers to supply financial advice.

Overall, eight percent of respondents said they had paid out money as a result of receiving a scam invitation and responding to it.

About 1 in 20 Australians fall victim to a scam each year, losing a combined total of almost $1 billion according to an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey. The national consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, receives in excess of 6,000 calls a year about 'Nigerian' scams alone.

A feature of this year's National Consumer Fraud Week is the fraud forum being held in Melbourne today, at which experts from Australia and overseas are gathering to discuss ways in which consumers can protect themselves.

Two of those experts are the AIC's Dr Russell Smith, speaking on the prevalence and risks of personal fraud in Australia; and Michael Levi, Professor of Criminology at Cardiff University in Wales, who is a visiting AIC research fellow, and who will provide the keynote address on international efforts to combat consumer fraud.

Participation in the AIC online survey is entirely voluntary and all responses remain anonymous.

It takes just a few minutes to complete at http://www.aic.gov.au/research/fraud/acf t/survey.html

AIC media contact: Scott Kelleher, Tel: 02.6260 9244; m: 0418 159525.