Cost of scams hitting older, Indigenous and disabled Australians surges by 22%

Australians who are older, Indigenous or have disability reported record losses in 2018 according to the ACCC’s annual Targeting Scams report released this week.

Australians aged over 65 submitted over 26,400 reports to Scamwatch in 2018, with losses of over $21.4 million. This represents an increase of five per cent in reports but 22 per cent in losses.

“Scammers will scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long term partner, taking advantage of those who are inexperienced with these sites and may be in a vulnerable emotional state,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Investment scams are the most financially harmful because the scammers invest time and money into convincing sales pitches, flashy websites and even glossy brochures.”

Older Australians looking to grow their nest eggs but who instead get caught up in investment scams reported losses of $7.6 million, and those misled through fake relationships reported losses of $5.8 million to dating and romance scams.

“Scammers will start with a cold call to their victim promising low risk investments for high returns. They may spend months grooming their victims and once a victim invests, they’re quickly convinced to put more and more money in. As soon as the victim tries to cash in on their investment, the scammer quickly disappears,” Ms Rickard said.

Scamwatch received over 7800 reports from people with disability or who identified themselves as having a chronic illness with over $8.7 million in losses. These Australians also reported higher losses per report to investment scams and dating and romance scams when compared with those that did not identify as having a disability or chronic illness.

Indigenous Australians also reported record losses in 2018. Scamwatch received 2434 scam reports from Indigenous people with losses exceeding $3 million – a 79 per cent increase compared to 2017. Investment scams were the most financially harmful with $1.1 million reported lost.

“The ACCC is committed to continuing our education and awareness efforts including our Indigenous outreach work and distribution of our Little Black Book of Scams. As vulnerable consumers can be difficult to reach through traditional channels we also encourage the wider community to assist in warning these consumers about scams.” Ms Rickard said.

For more about scams visit www.scamwatch.gov.au, follow @Scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts.

THE KIWI ROUNDUP: THE WEEK’S TELCO HAPPENINGS IN NZ

Soaring broadband consumption, a Vodafone sale, Spark’s Cisco deal and Vocus shuts down an automated phone scam… We take a look at some of this week’s key news in the New Zealand market.

Vocus shuts down automated phone scam

A phone scam, where callers received an automated message claiming to be from police and threatening the recipient with arrest if they don’t pay money to Inland Revenue was shut down by Vocus Group, according to New Zealand Police.

More than 2,400 calls were made to New Zealand phones before Vocus detected the campaign and was able to stop it, police said. Police received numerous complaints about the scam.

Vocus Group CTO Adrian Dick said the telecommunications company uses sophisticated scam monitoring tools, and was able to block the number being used for the scam calls and then alert other telcos and the Police High Tech Crime Group.

Detective Sergeant Damain Rapira-Davies warned that people need to look after their personal details in the same way they would a wallet or personal possessions.

Kiwi broadband demand sees usage double in two years – 680GB/month forecast for 2020

Broadband use in New Zealand has soared from an average of 101GB per household in April 2016 to a whopping 204GB in April 2018, according to new figures from Chorus.

Chorus is forecasting average monthly data per household of 680GB come 2020.

Kurt Rodgers, Chorus network strategy manager, said in 2011 the average use in households was just 13GB.

“In the space of a few years, the demand has gone through the roof,” he said. “And there’s no sign of the demand slowing. Our view is that ever-increasing data demands and the evolution of new data-hungry devices and applications, such as 4K televisions and virtual reality, will only continue to fuel the demand for bandwidth.

April’s figures cover the Commonwealth Games, which were streamed by national broadcaster TVNZ, and school holiday period.

Vodafone ups rural broadband push

Vodafone has snapped up telecommunications service provider Team Talk’s remaining 30% stake in rural broadband provider Farmside.

Vodafone New Zealand acquired 70% of Farmside in June 2017 for $10 million in cash in a deal that included options to enable Team Talk to sell its remaining stake to Vodafone for $3 million cash at any time over the following three years.

Vodafone New Zealand chief executive Russell Stanners said the deal deepens the telco’s commitment to rural communities.

“With Farmside now firmly part of the Vodafone whānau [family], we can continue to deliver better outcomes for these communities and increase our presence in the rural broadband market,” Stanners said.

No immediate major changes are expected in the operation of Farmside, which will continue to be based in Timaru providing all its current services.

The change of ownership takes effect at midnight May 31, 2018.

Spark NZ adds to UC offerings

Spark New Zealand is adding BroadSoft’s cloud-based unified communications offerings to its lineup.

The new deal will see Spark offering a suite of UC services, including instant message and presence, hosted voice, mobile client support, a full-featured soft client for computing devices, desktop and file sharing, virtual meeting rooms and voice and video conferencing, based on BroadSoft’s UC-One application.

Broadsoft is now part of Cisco. The new service, which will hit the market ‘in the first half of this year’, will be branded Spark Cloud Phone.

Sally Gordon, Spark head of business marketing, said business customers have been asking for a feature-rich calling solution to help improve collaboration, and which can easily scale as business needs change.