5 Jul 2022

Data from the latest Targeting scams report has revealed that Australians lost more than $2 billion to scammers in 2021.

Total losses to scams more than doubled on the previous year's total loss of $851 million, and early reports are showing losses are expected to double again in 2022.

Financial impact on businesses

The data shows that micro, small and medium-sized businesses are being increasingly targeted by scams, particularly those that involve emailing false invoices and payment details.

Small businesses (with 5 to 19 staff) had the highest median loss of $3,812 compared to other business sizes, with a total loss of $3.5 million. Microbusinesses (with zero to 4 staff) had a median loss of $1,550 and a total loss of $3.5 million. Many other scam reports do not specify a business size.

Common scams that target businesses

Payment redirection (also called business email compromise) caused the highest losses to businesses with a total of $227 million. Payment redirection scams are where a scammer impersonates a business, employee, bank, client or vendor to get the target to send them money.

Businesses reported the most losses to false billing scams, which includes many payment redirection scams, with $6.7 million total lost and a median loss of $4,200. For small businesses the median loss was much higher at $8,000.

The most common contact method for reports and losses was email. This is not surprising given the scam that causes the highest losses involves scammers emailing invoices with a change of payment details.

About the Targeting scams report

Targeting scams: report of the ACCC on scams activity 2021 is released annually by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It is compiled from scam reports submitted to:

Cybersecurity resources for businesses

See our page Manage cybersecurity in your business.

Get tips on protecting your business from scams on the Business Victoria Hub: