Australians are being hit with a new text message scam that falsely claims to be from Medicare.
The latest scam warns those that have been targeted should get a Covid-19 PCR test, directing them to a link to a fake ‘Australian Government’ website that could contain malware.
The scam message reads, “Medicare: You have been in close contact with someone who has contracted Omicron. You must receive a PCR test kit at: http://medicare-manage.com.”
COVID19 #scam texts urging you to order free test kits are still doing the rounds. DO NOT CLICK on links in unexpected messages! If unsure, log into your inbox by typing my dot gov dot au in the address bar. pic.twitter.com/2klQK8IZhm
— Scamwatch_gov_au (@Scamwatch_gov) May 31, 2022
In response to the scam, Services Australia issued a statement in an effort to inform the public about how the scam operates and the steps to take if you receive the text message.
“These scam text messages are impersonating the Australian Government, Medicare and myGov,” the statement said.
“If you click on the link, it will take you to a fake ‘Australian Government’ website. The website will ask you to ‘book now’ for a free COVID-19 testing kit.
“You may see a fake myGov or Medicare website that asks you to provide your personal information. This may include your banking details. The scammers use this to steal information and money.”
Services Australia assured the public that the only kind of text messages they send are for the purpose of appointment reminders, payment alerts, confirming changes to recipient details, and alerting recipients to a new myGov Inbox message. The organisation also said they don’t include links in their text messages.
Services Australia urged those who receive suspicious messages to verify them with the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chair Delia Rickard recently warned Australians that “you never know who you are dealing with online”.
“Scammers often pretend to be from a well-known organisation, such as a bank or the government, and they will pretend to offer you something such as money or a benefit, or claim that you are in trouble,” Rickard said.
“Do not click on any links in messages that come to you out of the blue, and never provide any of your personal or banking details to someone you don’t personally know and trust.
“If you think something might be legitimate, call the organisation or government agency back using details you find in an independent search, rather than the details provided.”
Data released by Scamwatch revealed a whopping 166 per cent increase in money lost to scams over the past year alone, with those aged 55 to 64 making up $32 million of the reported losses.
Scamwatch revealed that between January 1 to May 1, Australians (those that reported the incidents) lost more than $2o5 million to scams, with the total loss estimated to be much greater.
Furthermore, investment scams were revealed to make up the vast majority of money lost to scams, with a devastating $158 million lost between the given time period (80 per cent of investment scam losses were reported by 55-64 year olds), up 314 per cent compared to 2021.