Keep an eye out for fake text messages that appear to be official notifications related to COVID-19.
With so much information about the virus being distributed via so many channels, it might be easy to mistake a scam message for a genuine notification.
The scam SMS take many forms. Some may claim to be official government notifications that link to information about testing or virus safety measures. Others may claim that someone you were in contact with has the virus and you should click a link for more information. Still others may claim that you are eligible for a stimulus payment or other financial assistance and should follow a link to apply.
Variants may purport to be from your bank and claim that you must verify or update your account details due to new coronavirus policies.
Links in these scam text messages typically open fraudulent websites that try to trick you into divulging account passwords and other personal and financial information. Criminals can use the information you supply to take control of your online accounts, commit credit card fraud, and steal your identity.
The Australian government website ScamWatch has the following tips for avoiding these types of scams:
- Don’t click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source.
- Go directly to the website through your browser. For example, to reach the MyGov website type ‘my.gov.au’ into your browser yourself.
- Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details, even if they claim to be from a reputable organisation or government authority — just press delete or hang up.
Of course, criminals are also using email and social media messages to distribute scams. We all need to be especially vigilant right now.