While many employees work from home offices and kitchen tables in an effort to practice social distancing – scammers are taking advantage of the changing workforce.
Since January, Scamwatch has received more than 94 reports of scams about coronavirus and warns numbers are increasing.
Scammers are using phishing scams sent by email or text message claiming to be providing information about coronavirus but are actually attempts to gain personal data.
Phishing scams use the cover of legitimate looking websites, emails or text messages to trick users into giving personal information.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while working remotely:
- Be wary of emails and text messages containing links and attachments, especially from unknown or suspicious senders.
- Be suspicious of communication about the pandemic including from a COVID-19 or coronavirus email address or a link to a COVID-19 website.
- Don't click on a links providing COVID-19 information. Go directly to well-known sites for information – like WHO, the Department of Health, anything ending in gov.au, WALGA and LGIS.
- Avoid using personal email, file sharing sites, social media or other systems that aren't approved and secured by your employer.
- When printing at home, put files in a safe place after you finish working. If you need to throw them out use a personal shredder or take them with you when you return to the office.
- Don't copy work files to personal devices including home network drives like the cloud, google drive or dropbox. Home printers are safe.
- While working from home, mute or shut down any digital assistant like Alexa and Google Home since they are constantly recording nearby conversations.
- Don't let family members or friends use your company-provided equipment (laptop, phone, etc.).
"Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around COVID-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
"We've had a wide variety of scams reported to us, including fake online stores selling products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for coronavirus, and stores selling products such as face masks and not providing the goods."
"There is no known vaccine or cure for coronavirus and a vaccine isn't expected to be available for 18 months. Do not buy any products that claim to prevent or cure you of COVID-19. They simply don't exist."
If you think you have been scammed, contact your employer, IT department, bank or financial institution immediately.
Visit www.scamwatch.gov.au/news/warning-on-covid-19-scams for more information.