Research shows that staying calm, cool and collected may be your best defense. 

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Need to know

  • Two-thirds of Australians over the age of 15 were contacted by a scammer in the 2021–22 financial year
  • People are most vulnerable to being scammed when they exceed their ‘window of tolerance’
  • The Australian National Anti-Scam Centre calls it being in a ‘hot state’

If you haven’t been targeted by a scammer in recent years you’re in a special club whose numbers are rapidly diminishing. And it seems likely your day will come – which is why it’s so important to maintain a scam-resistant mindset. 

This means slowing down and thinking twice, or even three times, before responding to any contact that could be a scam.   

Stress and exhaustion make people more vulnerable to scams

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two-thirds of Australians over the age of 15 were contacted by a scammer in the2021-22 financial year. And there’s a good chance that some of the proportionately small, but numerically large segment that responded to the scammer (2.7%) were in a vulnerable state of mind when they found themselves on the receiving end of the sinister phone call or text. 

The evidence shows that when you’re stressed, tired and feeling the pressure from multiple sides, you’re more likely to slip up and start engaging with a scammer.

A 2022 report by the UK consumer rights group Which?, titled The Psychology of Scams, makes a convincing case that people are most vulnerable when they exceed their “window of tolerance”, due to factors such as relationship troubles, isolation, job stress, money stress, insecure tenancy, or just plain fatigue. 

This is when the scammers can override your impulse to ignore, hang up or delete.

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