National Fraud week aims to help avoid scams

Small business increasingly targetted, says ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued two new publications to help small business and consumers avoid scams as part of National Fraud Week.

The publications, Tips for a fine time shopping online and Small Business Scams, are aimed at raising awareness of crime, including a growing number of online scams.

The publications comes as the ACCC reports it has recorded a 100 per cent increase in reports about online shopping scams, according to ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell.

"Nearly 70 per cent of consumers that contacted the ACCC about scams during 2009 said they were contacted by scammers via the Internet," Kell said in a statement.

Online consumer scams are becoming increasingly better known, but a growing number of scams specifically target business, including false billing invoices for advertising or directory listings that were never requested to dubious office supplies that were never ordered.

"Small business scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and scammers will go to great lengths to convince businesses that the documents they send or the offers they make are legitimate," ACCC deputy chair responsible for small business, Michael Schaper, said in a statement.

"In 2009, the ACCC has recorded a 60 per cent increase in the number of complaints about false billing scams – one of the main types of scams that target small businesses," Schaper said.

"A typical example of this is where a small business is sent a subscription form disguised as an outstanding invoice. This is an attempt to trick the recipient into signing up for unwanted advertising services."

The news follows a finding from the Victorian Consumer Affairs minister that most victims of scams are too embarrassed to report that they have been scammed.

Australians also lost more than $70 million through online scams last year, according to a Federal Government report.

The Small Business Scams publication can be read online.

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Tags acccPeter KellNational Fraud Week

More about Australian Competition and Consumer CommissionAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionFederal Government

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