Partners against crime


With scams now costing Australians nearly half a billion dollars every year*, Suncorp has joined forces with QUT’s School of Justice and Chair in Digital Economy to better protect customers against the rise of scams in Australia.


Partners against crime

The six-month research innovation program brings together industry and academic experts in diverse fields of scams, deviance-led innovation and design thinking to explore new ways to proactively address this growing social issue.

“We are exploring how to reduce scam victimisation through innovation sprints and research, with a specific focus on system and process changes, psychological interventions, new business models, and recommendations for government and policy changes,” QUT Chair in Digital Economy’s Dr Paula Dootson explained. 

According to the latest ACCC Targeting Scams report, Australians lost $489 million to scammers in 2018 ($149 million more than 2017) with investment and romance scams being the most common types of scams. 

Suncorp’s Customer Advocate, Matt Leslie said more people than ever before are being impacted by scams and more needs to be done to better protect customers. 

“QUT is a leader in this field – we’re excited to be working with them and our strategic partners like Citibank to identify how we can better protect our own customers, and also put a spotlight on recommendations for possible industry change to ensure wider customer protection across the board,” Mr Leslie said. 

With more than 11 years’ experience researching the behavioural indicators behind scams, QUT’s Dr Cassandra Cross, the domain expert in the program, said the growing issue of scams in Australia needs the urgent attention from all parts of society. 

“We’re seeing a significant increase in reported financial loss due to scams every year - and the sad thing is that fraud has a very low reporting rate, so we know this only reflects a portion of all fraudulent cases,” Dr Cross said. 

“It’s important to recognise that anyone could fall victim to fraud if they’re targeted in a way which takes advantage of a person’s weakness or vulnerability. Offenders will exploit, manipulate and deceive a person into doing things they wouldn’t normally do,” Dr Cross said.  

The work we’re doing with Suncorp is integral – financial loss is consistent across all fraud victimisations and in many cases, a conversation between a person on the front line and their customer can be the turning point the customer needed to recognise that something wasn’t right.”

Dr Cassandra Cross, QUT

Having worked in Suncorp Stores for more than nine years, Suncorp’s Jemma Pascoe has witnessed many scams, which she said had devastating consequences for the customer, both financially and emotionally. 

“Scams can happen so easily and to anyone. I have witnessed young tech-savvy customers, families and elderly customers who have been impacted. In some cases, customers come to us very distraught and in others they’re completely unaware of their situation,” Ms Pascoe said. 

“Every situation is different, which is why our work with QUT is so valuable for people on the frontline as it will further strengthen how we support our customers through what can be a very distressing journey.” 

The multi-phase program commenced with an enviro-sensing phase last month which included an in-depth analysis into why scams are successful and explores best practice to combat scams. 

A series of workshops are now underway to identify opportunities for improvements or enhancements. This will be followed by a seven-week sprint which aims to identify the current policies and processes that are in place and potential intervention points for targeting customers to reduce scam victimisation.  

The findings and recommendations will be released in late 2019. 

Source: Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on scams activity 2018

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