White-collar crimes towards consumers have increase dramatically in Australia in the recent years. Particular interest of researchers has been attracted to the white-collar crimes against older people in Australia. Unfortunately, in the modern era, such people become the least protected consumers and undergo the largest losses. It is much easier for white-collar criminals to take advantage of older people. Therefore, it has been argued that they need the most protection from the government in this regard. White-collar crimes towards consumers in Australia take many various forms.
This type of crimes describes “consumer victimisation which may occur when someone is selling something or delivering a service. It includes such areas as commercial transactions (telemarketing, Internet sales, door to door sales, mail orders); home repairs and home construction; buying and servicing vehicles; and financial transactions (cheques bouncing or problems with credit card purchases, health care products and services fraud, the illegal transferring of money and property as well as superannuation scams).
” One of the most widely-spread white-collar crimes in Australia and other countries of the world nowadays is telemarketing fraud. “For the last decade, telemarketing has been a significant area of consumer fraud, particularly where older people are concerned. ” Telemarketing fraud has been broadly used by companies in order to promote products which have very low quality and do not answer the requirements of people. Being unable to sell them in stores, companies turn to telemarketing sales.
As the result of them, many Australians have obtained products which they did not need at all. A Survey was conducted in order to determine the perception of telemarketing by those people who were deceived by it. The results of the survey “found that most victims of telemarketing fraud were well educated, have above-average incomes and are socially active. Less than 5 per cent of these people thought that a telemarketer could be a criminal and 40 per cent said that they could not distinguish legal from illegal telemarketing” .
That is why it was possible to conclude that for the most part, telemarketing fraud is very hard to distinguish even for well-educated people. Even though they are sure they can easily tell the fraud, they still become its victims. In order to protect consumers from this type of fraud, it is necessary to enforce all of the efficient laws regulating this field. It has also been discovered that the active use of computers by individuals has made them even more sensitive for all kinds of white-collar crimes. In Australia this problem is particularly common for old people.
As specialists of ABS state, “in Australia between 1996 and 1997, the percentage of persons aged 55 and over who had used computers from home more than once a week increased 36 per cent to 296,000 with 22,000 of these purchasing goods or services online (ABS 1998). Along with this increased use of information technologies comes an increased vulnerability to the many fraudulent and deceptive practices which exist online. ” However, young computer users in Australia are also often suffering from computer fraud.
“Older persons are not the only ones who are being defrauded through the use of computers, but they may be particularly vulnerable if they do not have a full understanding of the technologies they are using” . Home repair is also often used as a basis to perform white-collar crimes in Australia. Many schemes have been introduced in the 1990s in order to take advantages of consumers. For example, “in New South Wales, a number of pensioners were defrauded by a group of offenders who claimed that work was required to repair roofing, install insulation and repair electric wiring.
In each case the work was unnecessary and the offenders demanded and received payment before the fraud was detected” . There have been many complaints for the work of contractors on repairing homes. For example, they often took down payments but never got back to the consumers to do the repair job. There were many other white-collar crimes performed, for example, contractors did not complete their work, nor did unnecessary work in order to make the bill larger. Other popular forms of white-collar crimes practiced widely in Australia deal with financial transactions and purchases of securities by consumers.
Due to some actions taken by the government of Australia to regulate these types of activities, many people did not become victims of fraud. “Recent government policy has been to encourage those in the workforce to accrue funds throughout their working life in order to provide for their retirement through superannuation, thus avoiding the need for them to draw on State funded pensions. Due to regulation, losses through criminal activity both upon and within superannuation funds in Australia have been minimal. ”