Taskforce established to combat scam

A new taskforce has been established covering 18 agencies across Australia and New Zealand to combat online fraud.

The Australasian Consumer Taskforce, which will tackle a wide range of scams costing Australians millions of dollars each year, today launched a four-week education campaign.

Vince Humphries, acting manager of the Australian Communications and Media Authority's codes, content and education branch, said the campaign will help arm computer users who are sometimes tricked into providing banking details or handing over money for nothing in return.

"Many of the agencies involved in the taskforce receive thousands of complaints and pleas for help each year about scams received by mail, telephone and e-mail," he said.

"The key message from the taskforce to consumers who receive any suspicious looking offers is to 'delete it, hang up and destroy it'. Consumers are their own best defence and should always err on the side of caution."

Chaired by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Louise Sylvan, the taskforce is working on outreach and prevention strategies and research.

The top scams for 2005 include lottery scams, advance fee fraud scams, phishing e-mails and cold calling schemes.

Humphries said the federal government is particularly concerned about phishing scams adding that users should never respond to e-mails seeking confidential information such as account details or passwords.

A ScamWatch Web site has been established at www.scamwatch.gov.au

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