Australians need to be extra careful of scammers who are adapting their cons to the topic of the moment – corona virus.
“Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around coronavirus to take advantage of people,” says Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC ’s Scamwatch received nearly 100 reports of various scams about the virus in first 11 weeks of this year and it warns scammers are using technology and that numbers of scams are starting to climb.
Scamwatch has received multiple reports of ‘phishing’ – attempts to obtain personal data – through texts or email messages claiming to provide official information on coronavirus. Other scams include people receiving misinformation about cures for coronavirus and investment scams claiming coronavirus has created opportunities to make money.
“We’ve had a wide variety of scams reported to us, including fake online stores selling products claiming to be a vaccine or cure, and stores selling products such as face masks and not providing the goods,” Ms Rickard says.
“A vaccine for corona virus isn’t expected to be available for 18 months. Do not buy any products that claim to prevent or cure it. They simply don’t exist yet.”
The ACCC says to beware of scammers impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health or legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies,” Ms Rickard said.
“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 corona virus, visit the Department of Health Australian Department of Health and the World Health Organisation directly.”
If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. More information on how to avoid corona virus scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help.