Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:42): My constituency question is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation.
A member of our electorate, Faye, is concerned about the increasing prevalence of scams she is seeing in her community. I have to say I share these concerns. Since the onset of the pandemic we have seen a huge of increase in the number of scams occurring. Many are pretending to be the tax office, others are pretending to allow early access to superannuation and we have even seen scammers pretending to be contact tracers. In my electorate, scammers have been increasingly detail oriented, going as far as to say they are representing the City of Boroondara and asking individuals to answer surveys. These scammers are preying on the financial vulnerability and the uncertainty felt by many due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The information I seek is: what can the government do to find and put a stop to this increasing prevalence of scammers who are causing undue stress and anxiety in my community?
Reply from Minister Melissa Horne 12th April 2021
Scams are a blight on our community and the Government shares the concerns raised by the Member and his constituent. Scams are designed to deceive people, generally for the purpose of stealing money or personal details. Anyone can fall for a scam, as scammers are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tricks to dupe thousands of Victorians every year. As many scammers are based overseas, they are very hard to track and are outside of our jurisdiction.
However, wherever there is scope or opportunity to disrupt scam activity, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) works closely with other Victorian law enforcement agencies as well as the national Scams Awareness Network, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other Australian Consumer Law regulators, to do so.
Educating people about how to avoid scams and warning them of new and emerging scams is the best way to empower Victorians and stop the scammers.CAV has a number of resources available to educate the community on scams, including quizzes and informative videos. These resources are available in 30 languages on the CAV website.
CAV also provides timely warnings and information about scams on Facebook and Twitter. It alerts Victorians when particular scams are identified, so it is important Victorians notify CAV of suspicious activity as soon as possible so we can warn others.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, CAV alerted Victorians about the potential for scammers to take advantage of public fear and confusion. CAV cautioned the public about fake messages offering immediate government payments and early access to superannuation payments.
The Government will continue to work closely with partners to identify, disrupt and prevent scams wherever it can and to educate and support Victorians to avoid scams.