Coronavirus SMS scams: Attackers piggyback on official Government safety announcements

Have you received the below SMS message?

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If you have, don’t worry, it’s a legitimate announcement from the Australian Government; screenshotted directly from my phone.

However if you’ve received an SMS similar the below, proceed with caution. It’s a scam:

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(Image courtesy of the Australian Computer Society)

Scamwatch reports that since the COVID-19 outbreak, they’ve received more than a thousand reports of coronavirus-related scams. These range from phishing emails, SMS scams, and general social engineering attempts, however, they typically share a few common characteristics:

  • They often pose as a government body
  • They frequently play on false government rebates or tax claims relating to COVID-19
  • They always ask you for a call-to-action (providing private details, card information or otherwise)

In the above example, the link in the SMS reportedly took the victim to a fake COVID-19 information page in which a multitude of false services was advertised, ranging from fraudulent early-access to superannuation funds to false ATO tax rebates.

During this time, in which many Australians are facing unprecedented financial hardship, it’s easier than ever for scammers to play on our vulnerabilities and exploit our need for stability.

To ensure that you don’t fall victim to predatory COVID-19 scammers, follow these tips as a general rule-of-thumb:

  • Even if a URL or SMS is from a legitimate source; never click the link directly.
  • Fake websites can hide within hyperlinks; It’s always safer to type the website out in your browser instead
  • Do not respond to or action claims for personal or financial details. Delete any SMS or email correspondence requesting you to do so unless it is heavily verified

And most importantly; if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Remember that we’re all in this together, any benefits, claims, or stimulus we receive during these times are not unique to us alone. Check with your colleagues and with official sources to confirm that you’re actually entitled to financial support or rebate, and then go through the official channelsto process them.

For more information on keeping your business cybersafe during COVID-19, visit https://portal.cyberaware.com/remote.

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