Bankwest has identified that cyber criminals are actively targeting the community’s most vulnerable members at a rate more than double that of any other age groups, with overall scam cases also on the rise.
A Bankwest analysis of scams and fraud trends found customers aged 60 years and older made up nearly half (45 per cent) of all cases since January, with the next highest age bracket, 50-59, at 21 per cent.
The most common threat type for the 60+ age group was remote access and IT scams, which usually involve criminals posing as tech support and contacting victims under the guise of being able to fix computer issues.
The figures have been released as part of WA Seniors Week, helping to highlight the scourge of crimes targeting the most vulnerable, and the need for ongoing awareness, education, and protection for customers.
Online scams experienced a sharp increase of 40 per cent (Jul-Sep) compared to the previous quarter (Apr-Jun), with a surge in remote access threats, as more people work from home and shop online.
The spike was largely due to a scam that surged in September, with criminals offering victims a mobile phone for completing a survey, then obtaining and exploiting their bank details under the guise of a postage charge.
Bankwest’s scams and fraud team recorded 2,450 cases in the first 10 months of 2020, with a potential exposure of more than $14 million, and recovered $9.9 million in customer funds.
The most common threat facing all customers this year was investment scams, with 701 cases worth $2,609,688, as criminals continued to seize on the financial uncertainty of COVID-19.
Scamwatch provides a wealth of support material, while Bankwest’s Safe and Savvy Guide helps educate and inform customers, particularly those in the highly-targeted age groups, of the dangers of scams and fraud.
Quotes attributed to Bankwest General Manager of Personal and Third-Party Banking Donna Dalby:
“Our top priority is the wellbeing of customers and the community, and we all have a responsibility to protect and educate our loved ones, especially those more at-risk, which is why education on scams is so important.
“There is a reason we’re seeing these surges now, and criminals are capitalising on West Australians’ love of online shopping, more people online as they work from home, and the financial uncertainty of COVID-19.
“Bankwest will do everything it can to recover customer funds, but it’s not always possible, which is why it’s so important for people to be aware of the risks out there and protect themselves.”
Quotes attributed to Justine Martyr, Acting CEO of Advocare:
“It is vital for older people to be able to access clear information about how to protect themselves from financial abuse in any form, and it’s pleasing to see Bankwest’s Safe and Savy program is continuing to support older people in this regard.
“Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse that is carried out by someone in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, such as a family member or friend.
“If you, or someone you know, experiences, suspects or witnesses elder abuse of any kind, call the WA Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 724 679. All calls are free and confidential and answered by experienced advocates.”