It is not uncommon for criminals to pose as trusted organisations like banks and even the World Health Organisation (WHO). In relation to COVID-19 we have seen reports that they may pretend to offer medical products, guidance or a safe haven for money, and may try to get in touch with phone calls, emails, SMS messages, or social media posts.
Large organisations such as Australia Post will often have scam alert pages on their websites with details of current known scams using their branding. Stay up to date on those pages to help protect yourself against scams and fraud.
Here are some of the most common examples of what to look out for:
SMS messages offering tests for COVID-19 or information on how to protect yourself
These are the kinds of SMS messages often provide links to:
- find out more about symptoms of the virus and/or where to get tested in your area
- obtain more information on current restrictions
- learn more about how to protect yourself against the virus.
These messages often appear to come from "GOV" or "GMAIL". There have been instances where they use the sender identification "myGov" so that the message appears in the same conversation thread as previous, legitimate official SMS messages you may have received from myGov.
You should NEVER click on links in SMS messages from an unknown or unreliable source as these links are likely to be malicious.
Emails impersonating Australia Post to steal personal information
These emails pretend to provide you with advice about travelling to countries with confirmed cases of the virus. In reality, they trick you into visiting a website that then steals your personal and financial information.
Once they have your personal information, the scammers can open bank accounts or credit cards in your name or access your existing accounts.
Emails pretending to be from WHO or other international relief organisations
The email prompts you to click on a link or open an attachment to access information about new cases of the virus in your local area, or for advice on safety measures to prevent the spread.
These links and attachments are malicious and clicking them can automatically download malware that will give the scammer ongoing access to your device and the ability to steal your personal and/or financial information.
COVID-19 relief payment scam
Emails targeting an increasing number of Australians that are seeking to work from home, wanting to help with relief efforts or requiring financial assistance if they find themselves out of work. The email may offer a sum of money as a "COVID-19 assistance" payment if you complete an attached application form.
Opening the attachment may download malicious software onto your device which can give the scammer ongoing access to your device and the ability to steal your personal and/or financial information.
Have you been a victim of a scam or fraud?
If you think you've fallen for any scam, or you believe your security has been compromised, or you notice a transaction you did not make:
Contact HSBC immediately on (+612) 9005 8220 or visit your nearest HSBC branch.
Report the situation to the following government agencies:
If you suspect you have been the target of fraud or scams, or your identity has been stolen or compromised in any way, it is also recommended you report this to:
- the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network at acorn.gov.au
- IDCARE on 1300 432 273 or via http://www.idcare.org. IDCARE is a free, Government-funded service that provides support to victims of identity crime to help them plan a response when they have had their personal information taken
- your local police on 131 444