Coronavirus scammers target vulnerable

Coronavirus scammers target vulnerable

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SNEAKY: Scammers are using coronavirus fears to gain information. Photo: Facebook.

SNEAKY: Scammers are using coronavirus fears to gain information. Photo: Facebook.

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SCAMMERS have been using coronavirus fears to target the vulnerable. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received almost 100 reports about...

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SCAMMERS have been using coronavirus fears to target the vulnerable.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received almost 100 reports about COVID-19 related scams.

They include phishing scams sent via email or text message that claim to be providing official information on the virus but are attempts to obtain personal information.

"Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around COVID-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people," the commission's deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

Other scams include people receiving misinformation about cures for coronavirus and investment scams claiming coronavirus has created opportunities to make money.

"We've had a wide variety of scams reported to us, including fake online stores selling products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for coronavirus, and stores selling products such as face masks and not providing the goods."

"There is no known vaccine or cure for coronavirus and a vaccine isn't expected to be available for 18 months. Do not buy any products that claim to prevent or cure you of COVID-19. They simply don't exist."

Reports also suggest scammers have been impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health as well as legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies.

"Understandably, people want information on the pandemic, but they should be wary of emails or text messages claiming to be from experts," Ms Rickard said.

For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization websites directly.

Staying safe

The Good Things Foundation has issued several tips to help people identify unreliable websites:

The site wants to sell you something: If a website is made by a company that is selling a product, the information contained may not be reliable. They may be trying to convince you to buy their product by providing vague or false information, or advertising.

The website is out-of-date: The information on websites has to be checked and updated regularly to remain reliable. Most websites providing health information will have a date somewhere on the page where it was last updated, so you know it's current and accurate.

The website is written by a private company or individual: More trustworthy health and wellbeing information will usually come from websites ending with .gov, .org or .edu. This shows you that the website has been written by a government department, non-profit or educational institution such as a university, rather than a business or individual.

The website won't give you information until you create an account or give it information about you: Websites offering genuine health and wellbeing information won't make you create an account or give away personal information about you before offering this information.

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