May 2020 | Articles |

For opportunistic criminals, the COVID-19 pandemic has created ideal conditions to turn a quick profit, taking advantage of the disruption to the ways we live our lives and the vulnerability felt by many. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch has received over a thousand COVID-19-related scam reports since the outbreak. These scams are diverse in nature both in terms of the type of scams and the audience fraudsters are targeting (both individuals and businesses).


With so many of us working from home where we can and online shopping soaring, this makes us more susceptible to cybercrime. A recent Experian survey of 1,000 respondents shows that while Australian and New Zealand consumers feel clued in and responsible for cybercrime protection, there is clear room for improvement in having the education and tools to do so.


The majority of Australian and New Zealand consumers recognise cybercrime is big business, with 61% associating cyberattacks with organised crime syndicates. Similarly, there is a general awareness of the dark web, with 42% acknowledging they have a vague idea of what it is used for. However, awareness of specific cyberattacks is low across the board with 71% of respondents admitting they had never heard of recent high profile cyberattacks.


Additionally, just over half of the surveyed group (54%) believed they had never been a victim to cybercrime, but the sad reality is that globally, 19 billion identity records have been compromised since 2013, well over double the world population.


Basic self-protection steps are being taken by most consumers to protect themselves online such as choosing to ignore or delete mail from unknown senders (73%), using long passwords with caps, numbers and characters (60%), regularly updating software (49%) and regularly changing their unique passwords or using a password manager (45%), but the use of more sophisticated methods such as using encrypted browsers or VPNs was low (27%).


If consumers did fall victim to a cyberattack, the surveyed group said they would by and large turn to technology to assist in preventing fraud in the future (60%), with 42% saying they would be more selective or reduce the number of online retailers they would use if it happened to them.


Businesses have a duty of care when it comes to protecting consumer data, and can do so by providing guidance and tools to help people stay vigilant. Consumers across the board rate security as a top priority and organisations can respond to that in a multitude of ways, such as giving consumer access to services that allow them to check whether they’ve fallen victim to a hack.


Experian’s internet surveillance technology CyberAgent monitors thousands of websites and millions of data points on the dark web, proactively detecting compromised confidential records. Designed specifically for international protection of online records, more than 3.5 billion compromised records have been detected globally by CyberAgent to date, with companies across financial services, telecommunications, retail and many more offering their customers this unrivalled suite of customer identity protection services.


The online portal solution is able to break language barriers and uncover identity theft across the globe by searching the dark web for:


  • National Identity numbers
    National Identity numbers
  • Email addresses
    Email addresses
  • Telephone numbers
    Telephone numbers
  • Passport numbers
    Passport numbers
  • Credit  / debit card numbers
    Credit / debit card numbers
  • Retail credit numbers
    Retail credit numbers
  • Medical ID numbers (i.e. Medicare and private health numbers)
    Medical ID numbers (i.e. Medicare and private health numbers)
  • Driver licence numbers
    Driver licence numbers
  • Bank account and routing numbers
    Bank account and routing numbers


The dark web is a hidden network of websites that requires special resources for access. CyberAgent not only has access to the network, but also continuously monitors the dark web, notifying your customers if and when we find their personal information is being compromised. Essentially, you can empower your customers to react quickly and proactively to protect themselves from identity theft and fraudulent activity.


The implementation of CyberAgent is simple and efficient and the platform can be customised according to your specific technical requirements. You will then be able to direct your customers to the online portal, where they can log in securely and input the credentials they wish to be monitored. From there, the individual will receive an immediate report on any match of credentials identified, in addition to ongoing alerts as and when future matches are detected.


Fraud is a growing, lucrative industry with organised criminals constantly trying to find bridges to Australian and New Zealand business’ and consumers’ personal information. It is crucial, more than ever, to protect individuals and businesses.


If we can assist you in any way in these unprecedented times, you can get in touch with us using the form below.


By Karine Smyth, Head of ID & Fraud, Experian A/NZ