Scams on the rise! 1 in 6 Aussies fell victim to cybercrime amid lockdown

Aug 15, 2020
A new report has revealed the extent of scam victims during the coronavirus lockdown. Source: Getty

The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to many issues for Aussies, from financial difficulties to emotional distress. But, it seems those around Australia had another problem to deal with – scams.

New research has revealed the extent of Aussies who fell victim to an online scam during the Covid-19 lockdown period and it’s a lot. According to the NortonLifeLock Digital Transformation Report, one in six Australians were scammed during this period, Nine News reports.

Speaking about the shocking statistics, Mark Gorrie, senior director of NortonLifeLock Asia Pacific, said he believes much of this likely has to do with the increased anxiety people have been dealing with during the pandemic.

“Cyber criminals always prey on people’s fears, they are very opportunistic,” he told Nine News. “Depending on what’s happening at the time, even pre-covid in Australia, bushfires were a big problem and we started to see charity scams associated with that.”

But, that’s not the only worry. The report also found up to 29 per cent of Aussies were connecting to open or unsecured networks, which put their personal information in danger of being stolen.

Gorrie told Nine News phishing emails are all about harvesting information. This data is then sold on platforms such as the dark web, which is a real worry for those using the internet.

To help keep your information secure Gorrie said you have to keep a close eye on what you click on and how you protect yourself online.

He recommends using a complicated password which couldn’t be guessed, being cautious of coronavirus-related phishing emails, only using trusted websites which include “https://”, not “http://” and updating your devices regularly.

The latest report statistics comes weeks after Scamwatch, the national watchdog run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), revealed that over 3,400 reported scams have mentioned coronavirus, adding up to more than $1,790,000 in reported losses, since the outbreak of the pandemic earlier this year.

The most common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping and superannuation scams. Consumers were warned that scammers are looking for those who’ve let their guard down amid a confusing time and will use the opportunity to ask for personal, banking or superannuation details.

One of the big ones to look out for are government impersonation scams which involve scammers pretending to be government agencies providing information on Covid-19. They’ll usually send through a text or email that ‘phishes’ for personal information and also generally contains malicious links or attachments that are designed to steal straight from the pockets of consumers.

Examples of the emails show a signed letter from MP Greg Hunt warning victims that they’ve been in contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases and asks they click into an attachment and follow the prompts. Others show texts with links guiding people to fake sites about where to get tested in their area while some include messages from a fake myGov account saying the ATO is sending through a mass refund.

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