While the public is struggling to comprehend the implications of the coronavirus outbreak, scammers are exploiting and playing on the fears of consumers across Australia.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has warned that scammers are taking advantage of the spread of the coronavirus by falsely selling coronavirus-related products online, and using fake emails or text messages to try and obtain personal data.
Scams are also extending to phishing emails and phone calls impersonating the World Health Organisation, government authorities and legitimate businesses — including travel agents and telecommunications companies.
“Be aware of fraudulent emails claiming to be from experts saying that they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Scamwatch has said.
It is advising Aussies to search reviews before purchasing anything online; to avoid clicking on links in emails, text messages or social media messages that they’ve received from strangers; and to keep their computer security up to date with antivirus and anti-spyware software.
Furthermore, Aussies are being told to do their research before they make any donations to crowdfunding requests and to check the terms and conditions of funding platforms and ensure they’re dealing with official organisations.
If you think you have been scammed, you can make a report on the Scamwatch website.
Scammers take to new platforms
Just last week, Scamwatch revealed that Aussies under 25 were scammed out of over $5 million last year, as cyber thieves continue to develop new ways to con this “tech-savvy” generation.
“Scammers don’t discriminate based on age and the wide range of scams reported by this age group is concerning,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said at the time.
“Young people may think they are tech-savvy, but scammers are adapting and we expect to see more scams on newer platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok.”
In 2019, around 12,000 (7.15 per cent) reports made to Scamwatch were from people under the age of 25, up by 11 per cent compared to 2018 figures.
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business.
Maja has an extensive career as a journalist across finance, business and market intelligence. Prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja spent several years unravelling social, political and economic intricacies in Eastern Europe.
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