AUS: 1300 630 488    NZ: 0800 1477 6287

Beware these 4 COVID-19-related scams

While Australia’s COVID-19 outlook continues to improve, scammers are still looking to take advantage of the situation by taking advantage of you.

In the early days of the pandemic, many scams emerged that preyed on our health and safety concerns. However, as cases in Australia decrease, now many of the scammers are looking to capitalise on the resulting economic uncertainty instead.

“Scammers are impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health, or legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunication companies,” said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

As a general rule, it’s important to think closely about who might really be contacting you. You should treat with suspicion anyone you’ve never met who:

  • Calls you
  • Comes to your door
  • Contacts you via social media, email or text message
  • Asks you to follow a link
  • Or generally looks to collect your information without having been solicited.

Here are four types of COVID-19-scams that are doing the rounds at the moment.

1.     Government impersonation scams

Scammers are impersonating government agencies offering advice about the coronavirus via text messages and emails. In reality, they are “phishing” for your personal information.

“Phishing” is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. The scammers present themselves as trustworthy or official individuals or entities in the hope that you will unwittingly part with your details in your communication with them. And what’s more official than the government?

Generally, these phishing scams purport to provide you with important health information or give you access to economic support. They often contain links that you are encouraged to click, however the link is never what it seems.

They also may simply ask you for your personal and financial details, straight up.

To protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • Do not click on links in unsolicited SMSes, social media messages or emails, even if they appear to come from trusted sources.
  • Go directly to any websites from your browser. For example, to go to the MyGov website, type “” into your address bar, or type “MyGov” into Google and follow the link from there.
  • Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details. Government authorities will never contact you in this manner to obtain your personal information.

2.     Other impersonation scams

In addition to impersonating government authorities, scammers are also pretending to be from organisations such as banks, insurance providers, telco providers and travel agents, and using COVID-19-related excuses for phishing-related purposes.

For example, there have been text messages purporting to be from Westpac that ask you to follow a link in order to update your personal information “for the safety of customers due to the recent COVID-19 virus”.

Another example has been a Woolworths voucher “giving away free groceries worth $250 to support the nation during the Corona pandemic.”

In reality, messages like these are pretty much always scammers looking to obtain your personal information.

Once again, to protect yourself, never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details, and never follow a link in SMSes, social media messages or unsolicited emails.

3.     Superannuation scams

Scammers are attempting to take advantage of people in financial hardship due to COVID-19 by stealing their superannuation or by offering unnecessary services and charging a fee.

Most of these scams begin with an unsolicited phone call. The caller tells you they’re from a superannuation or financial service.

The scammers then use a range of techniques to request information about your superannuation account, including:

  • Offering to help you access the funds in your super account
  • Ensuring you don’t get locked out of your account under “new rules”
  • Checking whether your super account is eligible for benefits or deals.

To protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • Never give any info about your superannuation to someone who has contacted you.
  • Hang up and verify the caller’s identity by calling the relevant organisation directly – find their contact details using an independent source such as a phone book, old bill, or Google search.
  • For more information on superannuation scams visit the MoneySmart website. 

4. Scams targeting businesses

It’s not just in your personal life that you may be scammed. If you still run a business, scammers may target you by pretending to be a supplier or business with whom you usually deal.

In these instances, the scammer often tries to get you to pay an outstanding invoice or money owed to a new account.

To protect yourself, always verify any request to change bank details by contacting the supplier directly using trusted contact details you have used previously.