COVID-19 Scams on the rise in Australia
With many people returning from holidays and trying to relax after the rollercoaster year that was 2021 – scammers are hoping that you let your guard down and don’t think too much about giving them your personal information.
We are becoming more aware of scammers and so, they are always trying new ways to get your information and your money. One area many people are still unaware of, is that there has been a huge rise in reports of scams revolving around COVID-19 (coronavirus). Be wary of anyone asking for upfront payment for services that you know are either free or should not require upfront payments.
If you receive unsolicited messages (online, on the phone or in person) –from someone claiming to represent a Government body, Bank, Business or even a ‘friend’ on social media – ensure you verify their identity. Do not give them any personal information and contact the relevant organization directly.
It’s important to think about who might be really contacting you.
Here are a few COVID-19 Scams that have been reported.
- you are contacted:
- and asked for upfront payment to receive early access to vaccines/boosters
- with an offer to mail you a vaccine for upfront payment
- with offers to invest in the Pfizer vaccine
- to take part in fake surveys with the chance to win prizes or early access to the vaccine
- you receive text messages or emails that contain malicious links and/or attachments, that are sent to obtain your personal information, such as:
- fake text messages or emails that appear to be from Government bodies, example the Department of Health, or MyGov
- fake text messages or emails that appear to be from government agencies, including the ATO, offering financial support
- fake text messages or emails that appear to be from a Bank, Insurance company or even a supermarket or other retail chain
- you receive an unsolicited call, email or text claiming to be from a superannuation or financial organization, offering you:
- early access to your superannuation money
- confirmation that your superannuation account is entitled to a benefit regarding COVID-19 assistance
- a way to ensure you aren’t locked out of your superannuation account due to ‘new rules’
Online Shopping Scams
- you receive an email or text claiming to be from an online store selling vaccinations, facemasks or even “cures” for COVID-19:
- Scammers set up fake online stores and “sell” products that don’t exist
Scams that Target Business
- Scammers are sending emails to businesses, pretending to be a supplier that the business would usually deal with (the scammers do their homework). Scammers will try to trick you in to:
- diverting your payments to another account
- paying the scammer instead of the real business
Tips to protect yourself from Scammers
- Don’t click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source
- Go directly to the website through your browser
- Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details, even if they claim to be a from a reputable organisation or government authority — just press delete or hang up.
- Never provide a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a telco company
- To verify the legitimacy of a contact, find them through an independent source such as a phone book, past bill or sign into your account online.
- Never give any information about your superannuation to someone who has contacted you — this includes offers to help you access your superannuation early under the government’s new arrangements
- The best way to detect a fake trader or social media shopping scam is to search for reviews before purchasing
- Be wary of sellers requesting unusual payment methods such as upfront payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, preloaded card, or electronic currency (Bitcoin for example)
- Verify any request to change bank details by contacting the supplier directly using trusted contact details you have previously used
- Consider a multi-person approval process for transactions over a certain dollar amount, with processes in place to ensure the business billing you is the one you normally deal with
- Keep the security on your network and devices up to date
Visit https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/ for more detailed information on many types of scams in Australia.
And don’t forget, if you’re worried about anything at all – give us a call on 1300 368 555.