Social media continues to display fine examples of kind souls going out of their way to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then there’s the dark souls who take advantage of innocent people by targeting them with their scams and fraudulent activity.
It appears no one is immune to this activity.
Scammers are becoming increasingly devious in perfecting how they impersonate government departments, service providers, finance institutions and insurance companies, the list goes on.
Statistics from Scamwatch, part of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), show that over 17,700 scams were reported in the first quarter of 2020, totalling a loss of $16,390,650. That’s just this year, January to the end of April!
The most common method used for scams was email. A staggering 53% of reports were from email generated scams. Phone scams was 15% and text message scams closely followed at 14.6%.
Australians aged 55 or over are often an attractive target for scammers, with those in this demographic deemed to have more money and more accumulated wealth than younger people.
Beware of COVID-19 scammers
Scamwatch has received over 2,000 coronavirus-related scam reports with over $700 000 in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Common COVID-19 related scams include:
- Government impersonation scams
- Other impersonation scams
- Superannuation scams
- Online shopping scams
- Scams targeting businesses
Scamwatch is urging everyone to be cautious and remain alert to coronavirus-related scams.
Scammers will try to catch you off guard. They may pretend to have a connection with you. Never provide your personal, banking or superannuation details to strangers who have approached you.
Remember that the most common scam method is via email, phone or text messages. But there are other ways.
Never click on hyperlinks from external, untrusted sources. If you’ve been sent a newsletter with a link for a ‘sale’, do not click on the link. Instead go directly to that supplier’s website and look for the sale details. Clicking on any link can compromise your computer instantly.
Do your own authenticity checks, even if you think it is from a trusted organisation.
If it doesn’t feel or sound right, it’s probably not right. Trust your instincts.
Ask for help
If you live alone or spend a lot of time by yourself, consider asking someone you know and trust to serve as a second set of eyes and ears. Adult family members and grandchildren who are computer-savvy may be willing to help and advise you what to look out for when it comes to unusual activity on your accounts or devices.
If you have been scammed or have seen a scam, you can make a report on the Scamwatch website, and find more information about where to get help.
If nothing else, be careful and conduct due diligence. Stay safe and support one another.