Watch out for coronavirus scams

How to keep your personal information safe.

Scammers have begun to play on people’s fears around coronavirus (COVID-19) and are selling products claiming to prevent or cure the virus.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACC) has received reports of phishing scams, sent via email or text message, that claim to be providing official information on COVID-19 but are attempts to obtain personal data.

ACC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the number of COVID-19 scams were starting to climb.

“Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around COVID-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people,” Ms Rickard said.

Other scams have included 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 for coronavirus, and stores selling products such as face masks and not providing the goods,” Ms Rickard said.

“There is no known vaccine or cure for coronavirus and a vaccine isn’t expected to be available for 18 months. Do not buy any products that claim to prevent or cure you of COVID-19. They simply don’t exist.”

Ms Rickard said scammers were impersonating health authorities.

“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,” she 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 coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization websites directly.”

If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Protect yourself from scams

  • 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 Organization.
  • The best way to detect a fake trader or social media online shopping scam is to search for reviews before purchasing.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails, text messages or social media messages you’ve received from strangers.
  • Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details — just press delete or hang up.