Scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of people across Australia.
Scammers are trying to exploit Australians financially impacted by COVID-19 with new superannuation scams being reported to the ACCC’s Scamwatch.
Following the announcement and subsequent commencement of the government’s scheme to allow people suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 to partially access their superannuation, scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help facilitate the early access. It is important to note that the ATO 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.
Other current COVID-19 scams
Scamwatch has also received reports on other common COVID-19 scams designed to steal personal and financial information, including:
- phishing — government impersonation scams: scammers pretending to be government agencies providing information on COVID-19 through text messages and emails “phishing” for information, which contain malicious links and attachments
- phishing — other impersonation scams: scammers pretending to be from well-known businesses such as banks, travel agents and insurance providers using various excuses around COVID-19, and
- online shopping scams: scammers have created fake online stores claiming to sell products that do not exist, such as a cure for COVID-19.
Tips to protect yourself from these types of scams
Scamwatch has provided the following general tips to avoid falling victim to a COVID-19 scam:
- do not click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source
- go directly to the website through your browser, for example, to reach the myGov website, type “my.gov.au” into your browser
- never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details, even if they claim to be a from a reputable source — just press delete or hang up, and
- never give any information about your superannuation to someone who has contacted you.
- ACCC media release, “Scammers targeting superannuation in COVID-19 crisis”, 66/20, 6 April 2020
- Scamwatch, “Current COVID-19 (coronavirus) scams”, 27 April 2020.