Covid-19 Scam Season

Australia has seen an increase in identity theft attempts during the current pandemic, with close to $90m lost so far in 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak.

Common phishing scams aim to obtain enough personal information to impersonate you, in order to:

  • Open bank accounts
  • Request credit cards / loans
  • Access Government assistance
  • Request release of your Superannuation

How do these scams work?

Scammers are using tried and true phishing techniques via email, sms and phone by pretending to be a business or government authority. Now they can put added pressure on people by relating them to Covid-19 – with more Australians than ever accessing government services for the first time (think JobSeeker, JobKeeper) it can be difficult to stay vigilant. Here are some examples:

Fake Government SMS messages with embedded links:

Similar scams are being perpetrated over the phone and even face-to-face / door-to-door – these are particularly nasty as they put immediate pressure on people to respond, making it difficult for many people to identify the scam and stop the conversation.

These follow the same style as sms and email – pretending to be a government authority such as Centrelink, ATO, but also banks, businesses, hospitals/doctors, Superannuation fund, then asking you for enough personal information to steal your identity.

How to stop the scams

  • Never click the links in an unexpected sms or email – it could take you to a fake website and/or install malware on your device
  • Never reply to the sms or email
  • Always go to the MyGov site yourself, never using a link in an unexpected email or sms
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date
  • Never give your bank details, credit card numbers, medicare card, passport number, address, etc to anybody who calls you then asks you to identify yourself
  • Get a reference number and call them back – but don’t use the phone number they give you (look up the contact number yourself)

What to do if you think you have been scammed

  • Report the scam
  • Contact your bank / ATO
  • Inform your IT provider

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