Keep an eye out for Covid scams

Keep an eye out for Covid scams

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Scammers are looking to take advantage of new lockdown rules and restrictions.

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"You've received a new message regarding the COVID-19 safety-line symptoms and when to get tested in your geographical area," a new text message says, encouraging the viewer to click on a link for more information.

While it claims to have been sent from the government, it's an example of one of the many COVID-19 scams currently targeting unwary consumers.

It's a phishing scam designed to glean personal information, such as passwords, and financial details from its targets.

Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received more than 5170 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with over $6,280,000 in reported losses.

An example of a fake My Gov phishing scam. Photo: ACCC

An example of a fake My Gov phishing scam. Photo: ACCC

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

"Scammers are impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health or legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies," Ms Rickard said.

"Understandably, people want information on the pandemic, but they should be wary of emails or text messages claiming to be from experts. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization websites directly."

Common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping, and superannuation scams.

How do I stay safe?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre says if you receive one of these messages, delete the message and do not click the link.

To protect yourself from phishing:

Don't click on links in emails or messages, or open attachments, from people or organisations you don't know.

Before you click a link, hover over that link to see the actual web address it will take you to (usually shown at the bottom of the browser window). If you do not recognise or trust the address, try searching for relevant key terms in a web browser. This way you can find the article, video or webpage without directly clicking on the suspicious link.

If you're not sure, talk through the suspicious message with a friend or family member, or check its legitimacy by contacting the relevant business or organisation (using contact details sourced from the official company website).

If you've received one of these messages and you've clicked on the link, or you're concerned your personal details have been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.

If you've suffered financial loss from cybercrime, report it to ReportCyber.

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