December 22, 2023
For most people, the ping of an incoming SMS will induce some level of excitement — or mild intrigue at least. But with SMS scams on the rise, many may now be meeting this same sound with trepidation.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) ScamWatch website, scams delivered via “phone” or “text” this year far outnumber those sent through any other delivery method, including social media or email.

Delivery and postal scams are particularly common in SMS scam campaigns, with Australia Post even hosting a dedicated scam alerts page on its website. Other forms of fraud encountered via SMS include premium-rate text fraud, tax demands, fake contact-tracing messages and smishing (SMS phishing).

While eliminating the threat might be difficult, there are some simple ways you can avoid becoming the next victim.

A growing global problem

SMS scams have seen considerable growth in the last few years. ScamWatch reported a near-doubling of yearly losses between last year (A$3,091,790 lost) and this year, as of August (A$5,889,596). SMS scam reports have also shot up to a total 39,531 reports this year as of August — up from last year’s total of 32,337.

Of particular concern is the escalation in cost per incident (total reported losses divided by number of incidents), indicating a significant shift in the impact of these scams.

SMS scam statistics drawn from ACCC ScamWatch data (https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/scam-statistics) – 2021…

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