As if the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with right now, innocent Australians are now being conned out of their hard earned money by heartless scammers.
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading has today issued an urgent warning to fellow Aussies, with scammers appearing to be ramping up their efforts during the virus crisis.
According to the watchdog, the scammers are preying on people while they are socially isolated.
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Some of the scams include fake online stores, fake phone calls by scammers pretending to be from trusted organisations or government agencies, phishing scams via email or text, and superannuation scams.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said there had been a staggering and concerning increase in recent months.
“Scamwatch has received over 2000 reports of COVID-19-related scam activities since the outbreak of the virus in Australia with scammers taking advantage of the situation to exploit and play on people’s fears, vulnerability and generosity,” Mr Bauer said.
“Consumers buying online should be aware of fake online stores and social media accounts that claim to sell medical or health products, such as cures or vaccinations for COVID-19 and face masks.
“People are receiving phone calls where the scammer claims to be a relative who needs money for medical treatment.
“Phishing scams via email or text can claim to be from a bank or government organisations, such as the Department of Health or the World Health Organisation, with links or attachments containing malware to obtain personal data.
“Superannuation scams may offer to help you access your account, help check if you are eligible for various benefits or claiming you will be locked out of your account.”
Mr Bauer said a number of Aussies have even been scammed by people rocking up to their doors offering cheap services such as bitumen laying, roof painting and repairs, or tree lopping and removal services.
“There are so many scams doing the rounds at the moment that everyone needs to be hypervigilant about who they are dealing with, whether that be online, in person, or on the phone,” he said.
The Office of Fair Trading says you should never disclose bank details, financial information or other personal details.
“If you are in any way concerned about a phone call, email, social media post or text message, it is best not to respond and do not click on any links. If someone comes to your door uninvited close the door firmly and walk away.”