During these times of high anxiety are coming from government authorities, local volunteers and general public which is perhaps the commencement of an increase in some offences over coming months and possibly years as we enter uncertain economic times.
Australians should be aware scammers are adapting existing technology to play on people’s fears around coronavirus and selling products claiming to prevent or cure the virus. Since 1 January 2020, the Australian Consumer & Competition Commission’s Scamwatch has received 94 reports of scams about coronavirus, but warns figures are starting to increase.
Scamwatch has received multiple reports of phishing scams sent via email or text message that claim to be providing official information on
coronavirus but are attempts to try and obtain personal data. “Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around COVID-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Other scams include people receiving misinformation about cures for coronavirus and investment scams claiming coronavirus has created opportunities to make money. Fake online stores are selling products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for coronavirus and stores selling products such as face masks and not providing the goods.
Do not buy any products that claim to prevent or cure COVID-19. They simply don’t exist.
Scammers are impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health or legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies. Understandably, people want information on the pandemic, but they should be wary of emails or text messages claiming to be from experts. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health & the World Health Organization websites directly.
Scammers are already trying to take advantage of the Government’s recent announcement that people suffering financial hardship can have partial access to their superannuation from mid-April.
Scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help victims get early access to their superannuation. For most people, outside of their home, superannuation is their greatest asset and certainly worth protecting.
The Australian Taxation Office is coordinating the early release of super through myGov and there is no need to involve a third party or pay a fee to get access under this scheme.
Requests to Click on Links to myGov Website
Never follow a hyperlink to reach the myGov website. Instead always type the full name of the website into browser. In most cases the scammers are seeking to obtain personal information, including information that will help them fraudulently access the victim’s superannuation funds.
While older people are more commonly affected by superannuation scams, the new early-access scheme means a range of age groups are now experiencing these scams, In 2019, Australians lost over $6 million to superannuation scams with people aged 45–54 losing the most amount of money.
There have also been reports of scammers offering to check if a person’s super account is eligible for various benefits or claiming the new scheme will lock people out of their accounts. Never give any information about your superannuation to someone who has made contact. Avoid being pressured to make a decision immediately. Be wary of callers who claim to be from a government authority asking about your super. Hang up and call the organisation directly by doing an independent search for their contact details.
Alison Keppel | Leading Senior Constable – Banyule Crime Prevention Officer|