Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

Passing the buck: CHOICE report finds scam victims unfairly carry the burden of scams

3 in 5 scam victims have lost confidence in doing financial transactions online.

Last updated: 29 May 2024

A survey of 280 scam victims by consumer group CHOICE has found they are left carrying the burden of scams after big businesses like telcos, tech platforms and banks fail to step up and protect them. 61% of respondents said they had lost confidence in doing financial transactions online.

The survey results, detailed in CHOICE's new report Passing the Buck: how businesses leave scam victims feeling alone and ashamed, also revealed: 

  • Scams can happen to anyone, especially during a vulnerable moment: more than half (55%) of respondents were under stress in the days leading up to the scam
  • Telcos and tech platforms allow scammers to contact victims: scammers contacted around half (51%) of our respondents via a website or social media platform and 18% by phone or SMS
  • Banks also play a key role in enabling scams: 4 in 5 respondents (81%) said their bank failed to flag a potential scam before a transfer was made
  • Shame, and the belief that banks won't help, is preventing people from reporting scams: around one third of respondents (30%) who did not contact their bank did not do so because they felt like it was their own fault, another third (29%) didn't think the bank would help and the remaining group either didn't realise the bank could help or tried to report to the bank but found it too hard 

"Our research highlights that scam victims are left feeling alone, ashamed and carrying the burden of scams, while the businesses enabling the criminal activities of scammers face virtually no consequences," says CHOICE Director of Campaigns, Rosie Thomas. 

"After a scam is identified, the banks play an important role in helping to recover money and providing appropriate support. However, our data shows that it's a real roll of the dice as to how a scam victim is treated by their bank, and whether they get the support they need. Only half of our respondents said the bank helped try to recover the money and one third told us they didn't get immediate action from their bank," says Thomas.

"Businesses like banks, telcos and social media platforms, who have the technology and resources to detect, prevent and respond to scams, are not moving fast enough to protect and support consumers from the scourge of scams. We've welcomed the Government's commitment to strong, mandatory obligations that provide a baseline of support – that way consumers can expect basic protections no matter who they bank with or what platform they're on," says Thomas.

CHOICE's report has made three key recommendations to improve outcomes for scam victims:

  • Strong, mandatory and enforceable rules for businesses, particularly for banks, telecommunications platforms and digital platforms.

  • Consumers should be reimbursed for scam losses in most cases. 

  • Consumers should have a fair, simple, fast and effective pathway for reporting scams and obtaining redress.

Editor's notes:

Passing the buck: how businesses leave scam victims feeling alone and ashamed is based on a survey of 280 Australians that have either themselves been scammed or a family member been scammed involving a bank transfer or debit card, in the last 5 years. The sample includes a spread of people aged 18 years and over, located Australia wide, in each state and territory across metropolitan and regional areas. Fieldwork was conducted from the 19th of October until the 13th of November 2023.

Media contact

0430 172 669

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.