Every year, thousands of Australians are targeted by scams, whether it be online, via phone, mail or even in person.
Australian Community Media has compiled a list of current scams identified on sites such as scamwatch.gov.au, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website dedicated to informing people about fraudulent and dishonest activities:
Have you been scammed?
Have you been a victim of a recent scam?
Australian Community Media is interested in publishing first-hand accounts from those who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous operators.
If you're interested in sharing your story as a warning to others, contact Anna Wolf at email@example.com
The federal government's www.scamwatch.gov.au website has received more than a thousand coronavirus-related scam reports since the outbreak.
Common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping, and superannuation scams.
Types of COVID-19 Scams
More information on these scams can be found at the Scamwatch website.
If you have been scammed or have seen a scam, you can make a report on the Scamwatch website. Tips for avoiding COVID-19 scams include:
- Do not provide your personal, banking or superannuation details to strangers who have approached you.
- Stop and check, even when you are approached by what you think is a trusted organisation.
- Don't click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source.
- Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details
- Never provide a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a telco company such as Telstra or the NBN Co.
- To verify the legitimacy of a contact, find them through an independent source such as a phone book, past bill or online search.
- The best way to detect a fake trader or social media shopping scam is to search for reviews before purchasing. No vaccine or cure presently exists for the coronavirus.
- Be wary of sellers requesting unusual payment methods such as upfront payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, preloaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin.
Threats and extortion
Malware and ransomware
- Malware tricks you into installing software that allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing, while ransomware demands payment to 'unlock' your computer or files.
- If you click on the link you may be taken to a fake website that looks like the real deal, complete with logos and branding of legitimate sites. In order to view the video, you will be asked to install some software, such as a 'codec', to be able to access the video format. If you download the software, your computer will be infected with malware (malicious software).
- Another way of delivering a malware scam is through websites and pop-ups that offer 'free' file downloads, including music, movies and games, or free access to content, such as adult sites.
- Malware scams work by installing software on your computer that allows scammers to access your files or watch what you are doing on your computer. Scammers use this information to steal your personal details and commit fraudulent activities.
- Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks or limits access to your computer or files, and demands a ransom be paid to the scammer for them to be unlocked.
- Infected computers often display messages to convince you into paying the ransom. Scammers may pretend to be from the police and claim you have committed an illegal activity and must pay a fine, or they may simply demand payment for a 'key' to unlock your computer.
- If you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee your computer will be unlocked.
How to report a scam
Visit www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam to report a scam.
You can also report a scam to the appropriate agency to help them warn the community about scams and take action to disrupt scams.
Banking: Your bank or financial institution
Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support and myGov related scams:Department of Human Services Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk - call 1800 941 126
Financial and investment scams:Australian Securities and Investments Commission
Fraud and theft: Your local police - call 131 444
In Victoria call your local police station
Image based abuse (sextortion), cyberbullying and illegal content:Office of the eSafety Commissioner
Tax related scams:Australian Taxation Office
This information has been taken from the federal government's Scamwatch website. for more information visit scamwatch.gov.au