13.2 million Australians exposed to scams

Media Release

Two thirds of Australians aged 15 years and over were exposed to a scam in 2021-22, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

William Milne, ABS head of crime and justice statistics, said: “The results of The Personal Fraud Survey showed that 65 per cent of people received a scam offer or request in 2021-22, up from 55 per cent in the previous year.”

People were most commonly exposed to a scam over the phone (48 per cent) or by text message (47 per cent), with exposure via text message doubling from 23 per cent in 2020-21 to 47 per cent in 2021-22.

“While more people were exposed to scams this year, we found that the number responding to scams has actually decreased to 552,000. The survey shows that 2.7 per cent of Australians responded to a scam in 2021-22 down from 3.6 per cent in 2020-21,” Mr Milne said.

The results also showed that more people are reporting their experiences to authorities. Of those who responded to a scam, 57 per cent reported their most serious incident, up from 50 per cent in 2020-21.

“About one third reported to a bank or financial institution, which remains the most common authority scams are reported to. However, we have recently seen a notable increase in reporting to the police, up from 8.2 per cent in 2020-21 to 14 per cent in 2021-22,” Mr Milne said.

The Personal Fraud publication provides information about the prevalence of card fraud, identity theft, online impersonation, and selected scam types. The publication also includes key sociodemographic characteristics of those experiencing each fraud type.

Media notes

  • 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. Due to the deceptive nature of scams, people may not always be aware that they have been exposed to or responded to a scam.
  • Exposed to a scam: A person was considered to have been exposed to a scam if they had received an unsolicited invitation, request, notification or offer, and read, viewed, or listened to the material. This is a measure of how many people are encountering scams in the community. In this survey, mere exposure to a scam does not constitute being a victim of a scam.
  • Responded to a scam: A person is considered to have responded to a scam if, after being exposed to the scam, they sought further information, provided money or personal information, or accessed links associated with the scam. In this survey, only those who responded to a scam were considered to have been a victim of (experienced) a scam.
  • 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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