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Small business scams soar

By Cameron Micallef
11 June 2021 | 1 minute read
Small business scams soar

Australian businesses are being warned to remain vigilant, with scams costing a whopping $128 million in 2020.

The ACCC’s Scamwatch has shown Australian businesses were duped out of millions over the course of last year, with payment redirection scams a big culprit.

False billing scams were the most common reported by businesses, making up three-quarters of all losses businesses endured.

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While there are a number of false billing scams circulating, it was a specific type of fake billing scam, called payment redirection scams or business email compromise scams, that hit small businesses hardest.

In these scams, the cyber criminal will pretend to be a business or an employee and request an upcoming payment to be directed to a fraudulent bank account.

These scams have resulted in $14 million in losses and were reported as impacting 1,300 businesses last year.

“Small and micro-businesses made most of the reports to Scamwatch and experienced an increase in losses in 2020, although larger businesses reported the highest losses,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

“One thing we know about scammers is that they will take advantage of a crisis.”

Businesses were also targeted by health and medical scams in 2020.

About half of the $3.9 million in total losses reported to health and medical scams were from businesses, as they attempted to procure personal protective equipment for their staff to comply with government guidelines during the pandemic.

Other scam types that impacted businesses throughout the year included phishing, identity theft and hacking scams.

The abundance of scams has led Mr Keogh to reiterate the importance of businesses keeping up to date and informed on the issue of scams “so they can protect themselves”.

Businesses urged to come forward

Businesses are also advised to report a scam, or even an attempted scam, to ReportCyber, which is run by the Australian Cyber Security Centre, who passes reports to law enforcement agencies for assessment and intelligence purposes.

Businesses that have been scammed should also contact their bank as soon as possible. If the scam occurred on a platform such as Facebook, contact them directly to report it.

Below are the top five scams by losses as reported by businesses in 2020, based on Scamwatch data:

Scam category

Reported losses 2020

False billing

$13,509,327

Health & medical product scams

$2,053,745

Investment scams

$1,674,473

Online shopping scams

$496,947

Classified scams

$200,911

Small business scams soar
Mick Keogh reb
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