Consumer protection agencies around the world are gearing up in the next 48 hours for an international assault on scams in spam on the Internet.
The annual International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network's (ICPEN) Internet sweep, coordinated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), will aim to uncover scams that use spam and the Internet to lure victims.
The ACCC will lead the simultaneous sweep involving 76 agencies from 25 countries including participants from the London Action Plan (LAP) against spam.
LAP underpins an informal international network for spam enforcers and industry representatives and was developed by the United States Federal Trade Commission and the United Kingdom Office of Fair Trading to curb the activities of international spammers.
Joining the ACCC will also be "sweepers" from the Australian Communications Authority (ACA), the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA), Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading, Tasmania, Consumer Affairs Victoria, The Office of Consumer & Business Affairs, South Australia and NSW Office of Fair Trading.
ACCC deputy chair, Louise Sylvan, said cooperation with overseas counterparts and other Australian agencies is crucial in combating the spread of fraudulent and deceptive scams online.
"Scammers have evolved with technology and will pretend to be either people in need or legitimate organisations. Scams will prey on aspirations to be desirable, rich, clever and compassionate," she said.
The Sweep Day will culminate ACCC's involvement in the ICPEN's Scam Awareness Month (ScAM).
Syvlan warned consumers to "take a reality check" every time they receive spam. "If its too good to be true, it probably is." She added that Internet users should never click on the links in the spam they receive and to report the scams by calling the ACCC infocentre.
The ACCC's Internet Sweep headquarters will be based in the Canberra ACCC office. Other regional sweep centres will be based in Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Perth, Darwin and Brisbane.