A dramatic increase in the number of scams during COVID-19 has Whitlam MP Stephen Jones calling for a new cop to fight scams and online fraud.
Mr Jones said more people have been targeted by scammers since lockdowns forced many to work online from home. He added it was time the Government did more more to prevent and police scamming.
He said older residents in particular are being preyed on by scammers who are becoming more sophisticated.
His office has been advised of many scams such as one involving second hand cars being taken for test drives and still not being paid for when they are sold at hugely discounted prices.
"There are a whole bunch of scams going on in the second hand market," Mr Jones said.
"There are also puppy scams with people taking deposits on dogs that are never delivered. There are investment scams, romance scams and the proliferation of text messages from people saying your parcel has been delivered but you need to press a link and pay a customs duty or something else."
As shadow minister for financial services Mr Jones initiated Labor's early election promise on the issue. He said an Albanese Government would double funding for identification recovery services to help people who have fallen prey to scammers to get their stolen ID back quickly.
It would work through National Cabinet to make it easier for Government agencies to work together to recover people's government-issued ID, like licenses and passports. It would also bring in tough new industry codes for banks, telecommunications providers, social media providers and Government agencies to clearly define responsibilities for protecting consumers and businesses online. It would also review penalties for perpetrators and remedies for consumers currently in place for online fraud, misleading conduct and deceptive practices. And ensure technology platforms who profit from the sale of online advertising were made responsible for its prompt removal.
Mr Jones said Australia's prudential and regulatory system is second to none and Labor's anti-scamming measures are about strengthening the system to protect consumers.
"We will make this a priority and have a minister in charge of it," he said.
"We will set up a National Anti-Scam Centre. We will ensure we have tough new codes of practice for the social media, telecommunications and banking industry. We will look to see if fines and penalties are appropriate and we will invest more money to help people who have been scammed and had their identity stolen."
Mr Jones said scamming won't go away unless it is policed more and the Federal Government has an important role to play.
He said despite being warned about an increase in scams the Morrison Government had not worked with banks, telcos, law enforcement and regulators to take the steps needed to protect consumers. Or call technology platforms to account for profiting from harmful fake ads.
He said llawarra families and small business owners have been left unprotected which is why an Albanese Labor Government would establish an anti-scam centre, based on the successful UK 'Fusion Cell' model, bringing together law enforcement, banks, telecommunications providers and consumer advocates to harden national defences protecting Australian consumers and small businesses.
The Australian Cybersecurity Centre estimates cybercrime cost the Australian economy $33 billion last year and international data suggests Australia is now in the top five countries in the world for getting scammed.
The problem has become so great the Australian Banking Association recently encouraged small businesses to use e-invoicing and secure payment methods like PayID and BPAY to reduce the risk of being scammed.
The ABA said scammers often target small businesses because they are less likely to have robust cybersecurity measures.
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