‘Honeypot’ Australia lagging far behind as nations take action on scams 

Inaction on scams is creating a ‘perfect storm’ for people living in Australia already under siege in a cost-of-living crisis, exposing the country’s vulnerable banking and communications infrastructure to criminal gangs, and turning us into a veritable ‘honeypot’ for scammers.

That’s the verdict of Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Stephanie Tonkin, commenting on the news that New Zealand Commerce Minister Andrew Bayly has ordered banks to come up with, by September, a voluntary reimbursement scheme for customers who have been scammed.

“While mandatory reimbursement laws are what’s needed both here and in New Zealand, at least ‘reimbursement’ is now on the agenda over there, we’re not even close,” Ms Tonkin said.

Singapore is also pursuing a “Shared Responsibility Framework” involving banks and communications platforms to preserve confidence in digital payments and digital banking. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is making reimbursement for people who have been scammed mandatory, coming into law in October.

“With no reimbursement strategy or effective prevention framework in place, Australia is now an outlier and a target, and even more of a honeypot for scammers,” Ms Tonkin said.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission reported that $3.1 billion was lost by Australians robbed by scams in 2022, and that staggering statistic is thought to be a gross underestimate.

“For hundreds of thousands of people in Australia, this is a devastating crisis, and the community expects banks to lift their game and start taking responsibility for reimbursement. We need stop placing all the responsibility on people under the guise of “personal responsibility” and we also want to see banks, telcos and online platforms set up of effective ways to stop the onslaught of scams that are plaguing Australians every day.

“We are calling for measures that have teeth and incentivise the banks to increase their investment to protect their customers from being scammed by putting bank reimbursement front and centre of any new regulations,” Ms Tonkin said.


Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, media@consumeraction.org.au


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