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Wallan welcomes anti-scam forum

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

An anti-scam forum in Wallan last week highlighted the importance of being aware of scams, as well as how to identify and deal with them.

Federal Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell welcomed Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones to Wallan’s Multi-Purpose Community Centre to talk about methods to avoid persistent scams that affect people in McEwen and across Australia.

In the six months from January to June 2023, 469 calls were made to Scam Watch with losses to scams totalling $685,152.

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Mr Jones said the forum was an opportunity for people to learn how to protect themselves from scams, as well as what to do if they were targeted.

“Australians are losing billions of dollars a year to scams. If this was any other sort of crime, it would attract a lot more attention and a lot more focus,” he said.

“We think it should be treated like any other crime, which is why our government is focusing on it.”

Stephen Jones has delivered a number of similar forums all across Australia. ​

Australians lost more than $3 billion to scams last year, with scam losses increasing dramatically since 2020.

Tips shared at the forum included stopping and taking time before giving money or personal information, asking yourself if a message or call could be fake, and acting quickly if something feels wrong.

A key point Mr Jones shared at the forum was ‘don’t click the blue link’.

“Community education is about helping people protect themselves, helping them put the equivalent of locks and bars on their windows. Government’s got a role, businesses have a role, individuals have got a role,” he said.

“Everybody goes away with a bit of information, whether it’s don’t press the blue link or ‘this is safe, that’s not safe’, how to recognise the scam or how to protect yourself.”

Part of the Federal Government’s response includes a $86.5 million package to combat scams and online fraud, headlined by the establishment of the National Anti-Scams Centre, NASC.

The NASC is set to become the government’s primary tool to detect, disrupt and deter scammers and tackle online fraud through a partnership between government agencies, banks, telecommunications providers and digital platforms.

“It’s really important and we talk about $3 billion lost, but every one of those dollars is a personal tragedy – somebody who lost their life savings, somebody who lost their house or their business went bankrupt because they lost money that they couldn’t afford to lose,” Mr Jones said.

“We’ve got to take it seriously and we’ve got to act against it.”

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