Australia’s vaccine roll-out will hopefully spell the beginning of the end of the coronavirus crisis, but we can’t afford to become complacent when it comes to avoiding COVID-19 related scams.
Scams where COVID-19 was mentioned have so far stolen $8.4 million from Australians since the start of the pandemic, while 20 victims in Western Australia have reported losing almost $144,000 to WA ScamNet.
There are concerns those figures could rise further now that vaccines are being rolled out across the country, following a similar trend seen in other countries like the United Kingdom.
Some of the scams seen so far involve payment requests for early access to vaccines, offers to mail vaccines, investment opportunities in the Pfizer vaccine, as well as fake surveys that offer prizes or early vaccination access.
In an effort to counteract scams and the spread of misinformation, the ACCC’s Scamwatch service has published new information about how vaccines will be distributed, how the Government will communicate with Australians about the roll-out and tips to avoid being scammed.
It’s important to know that COVID-19 vaccines will be free for everyone living in Australia, so no amount of money will be able to buy you a spot on an ‘early-access’ list, nor will you require a doctor’s prescription to receive one. If you receive an email or text message telling you otherwise, it’s likely to be a scam.
Scammers may pretend to have a connection with you, so it’s important to stop and check, even when you are approached by what you think is a trusted organisation.
WA ScamNet warns against providing your personal, banking or superannuation details to strangers who have approached you, and to avoid clicking on links in unexpected emails or text messages. Instead, go directly to the website through your browser. Eg. to reach the MyGov website type ‘my.gov.au’ into your browser yourself.
If you think you’ve been approached by a scammer, or have lost money to a scam, WA ScamNet would like to hear about it via www.scamnet.wa.gov.au