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What are the top three online scams targeting older Australians in 2019?

21 March 2019

Already this year Australians aged 55 and older have reported close to 9,500 scams and lost four times more money than younger generations, according to Scamwatch. On average older Australians who were scammed lost $12,234.81!

This Seniors Week, we’ve talked to Scamwatch about the top three trending scams in 2019 so far that cause the most financial loss to older Australians.

Investment scams

171 reports and total losses of $3,662,481 

Investment scams produce the greatest losses. These can look and sound very convincing, offering high, quick returns, with little or no risk. 

These scams can be very persistent and victims are pressured to make a decision quickly or they’ll miss out.

Tip: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! And don’t hold back in asking if they have an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence – if they don’t, this can often be a red flag that it’s a scam.  If you’re still unsure, ‘ask out loud’ – get a second opinion from a friend, colleague, family member or seek professional financial advice.

Dating and romance scams

209 reports and total losses of $2,107,666

In romance scams, scammers will scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long-term partner, taking advantage of their inexperience with these sites and their often vulnerable emotional state. After months of building trust with the victim, they may start making requests for money—often for a personal emergency.

Tip: Always be aware that someone you haven’t met in person may not be who they say they are. Ask if they are prepared to meet you in person. If they aren’t, this is a red flag and it’s best to end it there and then. And finally, never send money or provide financial details to someone you’ve never met in person.  


531 reports and total losses of $390,247

Hacking is where someone tries to break into your computer or mobile device to steal your personal information, change your passwords, or restrict access to your device. They can use this information to impersonate you or to steal your money from your bank or super account. Often your details are sold on to other cybercriminals for further use.

Tip: Be careful about clicking on links sent by email, install antivirus software, keep your software up-to-date and always use multi-factor authentication where possible, especially on bank accounts.

Other trending scams 

Other top scams being reported by older Australians include phishing, remote access scams and threats to life, arrest or other.   

Tip: Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer, even if they say they are from your telco or IT provider. Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. And be wary of suspicious or unfamiliar emails and attachments. 

Resources to stay informed and protected

  • Have ‘the talk’ with your parents or grandparents (the cyber talk, that is!) using our simple guide
  • Subscribe to our alert service for free easy-to-understand information on the latest threats and scams. 
  • Follow us on Facebook for more tips on how to protect yourself online. 
  • Visit Be Connected for resources on how to help older Australians thrive in the digital age.