How to avoid falling victim to COVID-19 scams – Sydney Morning Herald

Scams cost Australians $77 million in the first six months of 2020, according to the ACCC. Its Scamwatch website has received more than 4100 scam reports alone mentioning the word “coronavirus”. More than $3.3 million has been ripped off from unsuspecting consumers since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The latest is a COVID-19 themed scam text that the ACCC warned about just last week. It comes from “Covidfree” and says: “We’ve detected a possible COVID-19 case near your neighbourhood. Check the maps to find out the most dangerous places to avoid tomorrow.”

This is a good example of a “phishing” scam – the fraudulent practice of sending messages purporting to be from reputable companies or government agencies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

It is among the most common type of “government impersonation scams” that include fake messages from myGov and the Australian Taxation Office.

Recently, scammers have been pretending to be government agencies by providing warnings or help related to COVID-19. These messages often contain links or attachments that, if you click on them, are designed to steal your information.

Online shopping scams and those targeting superannuation are also on the rise.

Scams are no longer just about catching out vulnerable, unsuspecting seniors: over-65s have lost more money this year ($23.5 million) than any other age group but consumers aged 25 to 35 have made the most number of scam reports to the ACCC and have lost more than $15 million.

The ACCC says reports come from men and women in equal numbers. Most scams this year (37 per cent) have reportedly come via a mobile phone, followed by 28 per cent via email and 16 per cent via SMS.

Scammers often come out of the woodwork when we are at our weakest.

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During the pandemic, trends have been accelerated and people’s needs have been supercharged by one of the toughest years many have seen.

It’s a scammer’s paradise.

Be on the lookout for any scams and to see if a message is for real, go directly to a government agency’s or business’ legitimate website rather than clicking on any link or attachment.

There is every chance that if the message is unsolicited, it won’t be legitimate.

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Author: The Covid-19 Channel