Small businesses lost over $6.6 million to scammers; ACCC warns of worse to come

- November 10, 2022 2 MIN READ

The ACCC is urging all small businesses to protect their information when using digital and online tools as false billing and phishing scams increase.

The ACCC revealed that between January and September 2022, Scamwatch received more than 1,440 reports from small businesses about scams, with $6.6 million lost to con artists. The agency reports new scams have begun to emerge following the recent Optus data breach and more are expected, now that the extent of the Medibank breach has been revealed.

False billing and phishing scams are amongst the most common scams and the ACCC is urging business owners to be alert to any suspicious activity.

Five simple steps to avoid scams

  1. Inform and educate your staff members about scams (such as by subscribing to Scamwatch email alerts and following @Scamwatch_gov on Twitter).
  2. Have clear processes in place for verifying and paying accounts, and make sure all staff know about them.
  3. Ensure your systems have up-to-date anti-virus software.
  4. Consider what business information you post on social media and networking sites, as scammers use publicly available information to target businesses.
  5. Back up your data regularly and store your backups offsite and offline. The Australian Cyber Security Centre explains how your business can back up your data.

Stay ahead of scammers

The ACCC suggests regularly visiting the Scamwatch website to stay informed of the latest cyberscams, data breaches and hoaxes. You can also catch up on how to better protect your business, as the Scamwatch site has plenty of educational videos with practical advice. 

Don’t forget your privacy obligations

If your small business has privacy obligations, you must take reasonable steps to protect personal information from misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. If you want some help understanding what you need to do and how to do it, see the OAIC’s guide to securing personal information.

Finally, if you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. If you have given personal information to a scammer, contact IDCARE for help.

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