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COVID-19 scam messages targeting Australians

Priority Level: 
High
16 March 2020

What’s happened?

ASD’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is aware of a COVID-19 themed scam being distributed via text message. 

We understand the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s Scamwatch has received multiple reports of COVID-19 themed scam texts being sent to members of the public.

The text messages appear to come from ‘GOV’ as the sender and they include a link to find out when to ‘get tested in your geographical area’ for COVID-19.

The link in these text messages is not legitimate, and if clicked on, may install malicious software on your device, designed to steal your banking details. 

Example of fake COVID-19 message

How do I stay safe?

If you receive one of these messages, delete the message and do not click the link.  

Messages that pretend to be government and other trusted organisations are known as phishing scams. They often contain a link to a fake website, where you are encouraged to enter confidential details.

To protect yourself from phishing:

  • Don’t click on links in emails or messages, or open attachments, from people or organisations you don’t know.
  • Before you click a link, hover over that link to see the actual web address it will take you to (usually shown at the bottom of the browser window). If you do not recognise or trust the address, try searching for relevant key terms in a web browser. This way you can find the article, video or webpage without directly clicking on the suspicious link.
  • If you're not sure, talk through the suspicious message with a friend or family member, or check its legitimacy by contacting the relevant business or organisation (using contact details sourced from the official company website).

If you’ve received one of these messages and you’ve clicked on the link, or you’re concerned your personal details have been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.

If you’ve suffered financial loss from cybercrime, report it to ReportCyber at www.cyber.gov.au/report  

More advice and support on our Get help page.

More information

Stay Smart Online has more advice on protecting your mobiles and tablets

To stay up to date on the latest online threats and how to respond, sign up to the Stay Smart Online Alert Service, www.staysmartonline.gov.au/alert-service.

www.cyber.gov.au also has additional information, resources and advice about how you can better secure yourself and your business online.

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these resources and information, so you can better protect yourself against emerging online threats.

Cyber security is everyone's responsibility.