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Identity theft on the rise during COVID-19 pandemic, warns ACCC

Source: Cultura RF

Consumer watchdog the ACCC is warning that the pandemic has left Australians more vulnerable to scam and fraud activity. Thousands of Australians have had their personal details stolen this year, with fraudsters targeting COVID-19 financial relief payments and superannuation funds.

The ACCC estimates Australians have lost $91 million to scams in 2020. $22 million worth has been scammed specifically to identity theft. One victim in particular lost $62,000 from an account in her name. Another victim lost $181,000 via a dating website.

Private investigator Julia Robson says she has seen a surge in clients ripped off through romance scams.

"So the benefit with COVID is there is no reason to meet in person. That is the biggest draw card for them because it allows them to go through that grooming process. During that grooming process then the request for money can come out, then the promises of starting a new life. All of that combined genuinely means at some point you are going to be deprived of your money."

Fraudsters are trying to get everything including superannuation details, bank account numbers, drivers licences and Medicare card numbers - in order to get 100 points of identification. Those points are enough to take out a credit card in another name or open a bank account.

If you think you've been targeted, you can report it to ScamWatch. 

To hear the full report click on the audio link above.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Find out what restrictions are in place for your state or territory.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at http://www.sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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