Warning on COVID-19 scams

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24th March, 2020: 

Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to exploit south-west residents.

The most recent scam we’ve seen preys on recipients of the Governments stimulus package payments. The email requests the person provide their personal details (including tax file number) plus a copy of their drivers licence or passport to receive the payment. If people provide this information their identify can easily be stolen and taken over.

We cannot stress enough that you should NEVER provide your personal details to anyone.

If you are getting a stimulus payment, the Government already has your details, they will not be contacting you for this information.

We have seen other COVID-19 scams include phishing emails and phone calls impersonating the World Health Organisation, government authorities, and legitimate businesses – including travel agents and telecommunications companies.

Due to this new wave of scams we suggest you be extra vigilant as these scams can appear legitimate. We urge you to be skeptical and query any communication you receive. Do not click on any links or attachments and contact the company via a publicly listed number to confirm the communication is authentic.

If you think you have been scammed, please contact your financial institution immediately.

Common types of coronavirus scams

We have received reports of:

  • phishing emails and phone calls impersonating entities. These include the World Health Organisation, government authorities, people confirmed to have the coronavirus, and legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies
  • people receiving misinformation about the coronavirus, being sent by text, social media and email
  • products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus
  • investment scams claiming coronavirus has created opportunities.

Protect yourself

  • Be aware of fraudulent emails claiming to be from experts saying that they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Be careful of fake online shopping sites requesting unusual payment methods such as upfront payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, preloaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. Information is available at: Online shopping scams.
  • The best way to detect a fake trader or social media online shopping scam is to search for reviews before purchasing. No vaccine or cure presently exists for the coronavirus.
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you to make quick decisions. Take your time and consider who you are dealing with.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails, text messages or social media messages you’ve received from strangers — just press delete.
  • Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details — just press delete or hang up.
  • Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
  • If you are planning to donate, do your research. If you are donating to crowdfunding requests, check the terms and conditions of funding platforms and ensure you are dealing with official organisations.
  • If you are donating to an established charity or not-for-profit organisation, ensure it is registered and that you are on its official website by searching the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register.

Stay up to date with latest consumer advice relating to COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the ACCC website at: www.accc.gov.au/covid-19.


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