The federal government has announced the establishment of a National Anti-Scams Centre (NASC) from the beginning of the next financial year to combat the growing frequency of scams.
Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said the NASC will be introduced to “detect, disrupt and deter scammers and tackle online fraud”, and operate within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from 1 July 2023.
“Australians lost over $3 billion to scams in 2022 alone and scam losses have increased nearly fivefold since 2020. The average loss from a scam is around $20,000,” Jones said.
“Over the last 12 months the ACCC advises me that we’ve had close to a quarter of a million scams reported on an annual basis. We know that that’s probably the tip of the iceberg because a lot of people don’t report.”
He emphasised that the NASC’s main objective is to leverage the expertise of professionals in scam detection from both the public and private sectors, while improving the exchange of data between the government and private entities.
“[The NASC] is all about ensuring that we can knock the scams on the head before they get out there in the field and that we can be sharing information amongst law enforcement, amongst banks, telecommunications companies, the social media platforms and the regulators to act as quickly as is humanly possible to ensure that we don’t let the scam spread,” he said.
He added the initiative would be reinforced through the creation of ‘fusion cells’, dedicated teams comprising industry experts, to target specific recurring scams.
Additionally, a caller ID registry will be implemented to block fraudulent calls and SMS messages, preventing scammers from impersonating legitimate entities.
The government will allocate $58 million over three years to set up the NASC as a part of its broader $86.5 million commitment to combatting scams outlined in the 2023 budget.
The SMSF Association has previously called for SMSF practitioners to educate their trustee clients on how to identify and report investment scams, which in the first half of 2022 led to nearly $270 million in losses.