Last updated: 24 March 2020
Scammers are taking advantage of the uncertain environment and the constant search for information about the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, to launch new scams targeting small business owners.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch reports that scammers are preying on fears around coronavirus to obtain personal data or sell products claiming to prevent or cure the virus, while the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has published updated threat advice about COVID-19 related malicious activity and tips to help you protect your small business.
Some examples of scams that have been on the rise include:
- offers of free iPhones being given away to help people spending time at home during self-isolation
- fake COVID-19 relief payment emails with malicious downloads embedded
- coronavirus cures and personal protective equipment purchase links
- coronavirus health updates and advice, including fake human resources emails
- offers of a fake coronavirus modelling map (mimicking a legitimate resource from John Hopkins University) that downloads malware to your computer.
- malicious COVID-19 websites designed to look legitimate or impersonate well-known organisations, used to install computer viruses onto people’s devices or harvest user credentials.
How to avoid being scammed
- Be very cautious of opening or responding to any email whose sender name you don’t recognise, and delete the message if unsure.
- Don’t click on any links you don’t recognise or download any attachments. On a PC, you can hover over the link to see the web address it is hyperlinked to (this will usually appear at the bottom of your browser window) to check if it looks suspicious.
- Never provide your details if you receive an unexpected call from your bank or other institution. Ask for the name and contact number of the person who called you and then check independently through the organisation’s main number that this is a genuine enquiry.
- Ensure you have high quality anti-virus software installed on your computer – ask your IT adviser for help if unsure. Please note, software is not a substitute for caution.
- Also beware of social media posts which link to unreliable information.
For more information about protecting yourself and your business from scammers read:
- 4 tips to avoid fraudulent suppliers
- Protect your business from scammers
- Cybersecurity tips for small business
If you are looking for information about the evolving situation with coronavirus and its business impacts, our blog has regular updates and links to reliable information. For more information on current cyber threats, visit ACSC and for current health information, visit health.gov.au.