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  • Rikki Lambert

Fool me once: Labor drops 'scambuster' policies

Shadow assistant treasurer Stephen Jones (right) with NSW Nationals member for Riverina Michael McCormack

Federal Labor will put a 'tough cop on the beat' to tackle scams as Australians are ripped off in record numbers, or as shadow assistant treasurer Stephen Jones puts it, they are getting 'hammered'.

The Opposition's policy announcement coincides with Scam Awareness Week, with the federal government's Scamwatch website reporting:

"In 2020 Australians made more than 216,000 reports to Scamwatch and reported losses of around $178 million.
"By the end of September this year, Australians had lost even more: Scamwatch received more than 226,000 reports with reported losses of over $222 million."

Some of the more innovative ways to broach the scam conversation with loved ones including Scamwatch Bingo, Scamwatch Crossword and taking the Scamwatch quiz.

Court and Rikki 'play a game' discussing Scamwatch Bingo and more on the Breaky Flow:

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said on Monday:

“The more we talk about scams, the more awareness we have, and the harder it is for scammers to steal our money or personal information,”
“There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about being scammed, because it can happen to anyone, but sharing your experiences with others can help disrupt and prevent scams.”

This Scam Awareness Week aims to encourage open and honest conversations about scams to help people detect, prevent, and avoid scams.

“Scams can affect anyone, and data from the reports we receive at Scamwatch shows how easy it is to fall for a scam.

While people aged 65 and older still have the highest losses (15.6 per cent) and are losing the most money, an increasing number of reports are coming from younger age groups. People aged 35 to 44 had the second highest number of reports (15.3 per cent), followed by people aged 25 to 34 (14.4 per cent), which the ACCC says shows scams can impact people of all ages.

Federal Labor says a new national anti-scam centre is among a suite of new cybersecurity initiatives Labor says it will implement if it wins government, claiming on Sunday its "tough cop on the beat" would tackle scams that cost victims $33 billion last year alone.

A Labor government would also create a national anti-scam centre, double funding for services to help aggrieved Australians get stolen IDs back and force companies to take down fraudulent ads faster.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones told reporters on Sunday:

"Everyday Australians are getting hammered. Text messages, fake phone calls, emails. Billions of dollars are being lost to criminals.
"It has to stop. It has to change. We need a government that's going to take it seriously."

Labor's cybersecurity policy also includes a new industry code for banks, telcos, social media giants and government agencies. 

These companies will need to clearly define how they will protect customers and businesses online and will be responsible for kicking scammers off their platform under the threat of heavy penalties if they fail to do so. 

Mr Jones believes the Morrison government should have already set up an anti-scam centre, such as those introduced in the UK and Canada. 

"If the Brits can do it, if the Canadians can do it, how come Scott Morrison can't."


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