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In focus: persons aged 55 years and over

Released
20/04/2016

Introduction

This article presents results for persons aged 55 and over from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Personal Fraud Survey, conducted throughout Australia from July 2014 to June 2015 as part of the 2014-15 Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS). Accompanying data tables are available in Excel spreadsheet format and can be accessed from the Downloads tab.

Types of personal fraud covered in the survey include card fraud, identity theft and scams (lottery, information request, pyramid scheme, relationship, up-front payment, financial advice, computer support, working from home scams, online trading or auction, and other types of scam).

Card fraud

How many Australians aged 55 and over experienced card fraud? (Table 15)

In the 12 months prior to survey, an estimated 4% (267,800 persons) of the population aged 55 and over in Australia experienced card fraud. This is an increase from 2010-11 when the rate was 3% (162,000 persons).

The likelihood of experiencing card fraud was slightly lower for persons aged 55 and over compared to those aged under 55 (4% and 7% respectively)

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  1. Total number of persons in the age group who experienced card fraud in the 12 months prior to survey, expressed as a proportion of all persons in that age group.

Identity theft

How many Australians aged 55 and over experienced identity theft? (table 16)

An estimated 0.4% (25,900 persons) of the population aged 55 and over in Australia experienced identity theft in the 12 months prior to survey in 2014-15. This was half of the rate for persons aged under 55 (0.8%).

Scams

How many Australians aged 55 and over were exposed to a scam? (table 17)

In the 12 months prior to survey in 2014-15, over half of Australians aged 55 and over were exposed to at least one scam (57% or 3.4 million persons). This was an increase from 2010-11, when 33% of persons aged 55 and over were exposed to at least one scam (1.8 million persons).

The proportion of persons exposed to at least one scam was similar for both the 55 and over and the under 55 age groups (57% and 55% respectively). However, persons aged 55 and over were more likely to be exposed to computer support scams than persons aged under 55 (36% and 26% respectively). For all other scam types, persons aged 55 and over were exposed at a similar rate as persons aged under 55.

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  1. Total number of persons in the age group who were exposed to the scam, expressed as a proportion of all persons in that age group.

How many Australians aged 55 and over responded to a scam? (table 17)

Of the 3.4 million Australians aged 55 and over who were exposed to a scam, 4% (122,900 persons) responded to at least one scam, either by supplying personal information, money, or both, or by seeking more information in relation to the request. This represents a decrease from 2010-11 when the responding rate was 7% (119,447 persons). A similar responding rate was found for persons aged under 55 (5% or 326,400 persons).

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  1. Total number of persons in the age group who responded to the scam, expressed as a proportion of the total number of persons in the age group exposed to the scam. Responding rates for persons aged 55 years and over for pyramid scheme and working from home scams have RSE's of greater than 50% and are considered too unreliable for general use. The responding rate for persons aged under 55 years for financial advice scams has an RSE of greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

How many Australians aged 55 and over were a victim of a scam? (table 17)

In the 12 months prior to survey in 2014-15, an estimated 2% (122,900 persons) of the population aged 55 and over in Australia were scammed at least once. This was consistent with 2010-11 results when the rate was also 2% (119,447 persons).

For the 6 million Australians aged 55 and over, the victimisation rate was highest for computer support scams (0.7% or 45,000 persons).

Although computer support scams were the most common scam type fallen victim to by persons aged 55 years and over, the likelihood of responding to a scam after being exposed was highest for online trading or auction site scams and other scams.

Download
  1. Total number of persons in the age group who responded to the scam in the 12 months prior to survey, expressed as a proportion of all persons in that age group. Victimisation rates for persons aged 55 years and over for pyramid scheme and working from home scams have RSE's of greater than 50% and are considered too unreliable for general use. The victimisation rate for persons aged under 55 years for financial advice scams has an RSE of greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Note: Victimisation rate is the total number of persons in the age group who responded to the scam, expressed as a proportion of all persons within that age group.

How many Australians aged 55 and over reported their most serious scam incident to an authority? (table 18)

Australians aged 55 and over were more likely than those aged under 55 to report their most serious scam incident to an authority (43% and 33% respectively).

Of the 52,900 Australians aged 55 and over who reported their most serious incident of scam to an authority, 45% reported the incident to a business, 28% to police, 13% to consumer affairs or ombudsman, and 34% to another authority.