1 in 9 Australians experienced personal fraud in 2020-21

Media Release

2.1 million Australians (11 per cent) experienced one or more types of personal fraud in 2020-21, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The 2020-21 Personal Fraud Survey asked respondents about their experiences of personal fraud including card fraud, identity theft, and selected types of scams.

ABS Director of the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics, Will Milne said: “The results showed an increase in the rate of personal fraud, from 8.5 per cent in 2014-15, to 11 per cent in 2020-21. This was driven by an increase in the rate of card fraud (from 5.9 per cent to 6.9 per cent) and scams (from 2.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent).”

The types of scams that Australians experience have also changed over time.

“Since 2014-15, victimisation rates have increased for information request or phishing scams (from 0.4 per cent to 1.0 per cent), buying or selling scams (from 0.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent) and upfront payment scams (from 0.2 per cent to 0.4 per cent),” Mr Milne said.

The survey found that most experiences of card fraud and identity theft came to the attention of authorities.

“The majority of those experiencing identity theft (93 per cent) and card fraud (95 per cent) reported the most recent incident to an authority – most commonly a bank or financial institution,” Mr Milne said.

In contrast only half (50 per cent) of those who experienced a scam said they reported the scam to an authority.

“The reporting rate varied by scam type, ranging from 23 per cent for computer support scams to 65 per cent for buying or selling scams,” Mr. Milne said.

Further results from the survey are available in Personal Fraud, 2020-21.

Media notes

  • Survey population includes Australians aged 15 years and over.
  • Card fraud involves the use of credit, debit, or EFTPOS card details to make purchases or withdraw cash without the account owner's permission.
  • Identity theft is the use of someone's personal details in stolen, fraudulent, or forged documents without permission, or otherwise illegally appropriating another's identity.
  • A scam is a fraudulent invitation, request, notification or offer, designed to obtain personal information or money, or otherwise obtain a financial benefit by deceptive means.
  • Respondents were asked about whether they reported their most recent incident (most serious incident for scams) experienced in the last 12 months (5 years for identity theft) to an authority.
  • Reporting authorities include bank or financial institution, credit card company, social media or selling site, government organisation or department, police, and other.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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