Westpac Group is urging Australians now more than ever to be wary of fraudsters using COVID-19 as a scamming opportunity, including hoax emails, SMSs and phone calls, at a time when Australians are spending much more of their time online.
Westpac’s Director of Digital Security, Josh Nast, said: “Scams can happen to anyone, anywhere, but we would encourage Australians to be particularly wary of being caught when they could already be financially vulnerable.
“When significant public events occur, such as elections, terrorism and what we’re seeing with COVID-19, scams can escalate as more people are compelled to react quickly and not think through the consequences.
“All Westpac Group customers are covered by our security guarantee and can feel safe to conduct their banking online through our normal digital channels.
“However, rather than being caught out when scammers are on the rise; prevention is better than cure, so we do urge customers to be safe online,” Mr Nast said.
The most popular scams on the rise have been:
- SMS phishing: Claiming to be from health, government, banking or other current critical services, scammers try to trick you into providing your personal or financial information or infect your mobile phone with malicious software.
- Email phishing scams: The emails look like they are from health, government, banking or other critical services tricking you into providing your personal or financial information or infect your computer or device with malicious software.
- Phone scams: These include an increase in phone scams where the caller claims to be from a reputable organisation offering to assist with a computer or WiFi issue. They then attempt to take control of, or access, your computer. Do not allow this under any circumstances; just hang up.
“One of the biggest scams on the rise, for example, is encouraging people to click links to get to a COVID-19 testing station, when in fact those links are just a way to install Malware, short for malicious software, which is often hard to detect, but can be how scammers gain unauthorised access to your network,” Mr Nast said
“Westpac will never send you a link to a sign in page or to access online banking directly.”
Scam Watch is also asking Australians to be wary of fraudulent emails claiming to be from experts saying that they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites.
WHAT TO DO:
- If you receive an SMS that you are suspicious of, you have not requested or you are not expecting, you can report SMS scams by forwarding the hoax SMS messages to us on 0497 132 032.