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Protect yourself from COVID-19 scammers

Senior lady holding a tablet device.

Council is urging the community to be wary of COVID-19 related emails and phone calls which could be scams.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Cyber threats relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) are increasing and Mount Alexander Shire Council is urging everyone to be wary of COVID-19 related emails, messages and phone calls claiming to be government agencies.

Cyber criminals will try to trick you into providing sensitive information. If you receive a phone call requesting information or payment simply hang up the phone and contact the relevant institution, if appropriate.

Phishing emails are often sophisticated, preying on people’s desire for information and imitating trusted and well-known organisations or government agencies.

“If you see any suspicious emails, something you did not initiate or something you are not expecting, remember this, "If in doubt, chuck it out!" said Andrew Nankivell, Principal Technology Officer, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

Clicking on these malicious links or visiting fake websites may automatically install computer viruses or malware and ransomware onto your device, giving cyber criminals the ability to steal your financial and personal information.

Tips to avoid a scam:

• Read the message carefully, and look for anything that isn’t quite right, such as tracking numbers, names, attachment names, sender, message subject and hyperlinks.
• If unsure, call the organisation on their official number, as it appears on their website. Double-check the details or confirm that the request is legitimate. Do not contact the phone number or email address contained in the message as this most likely belongs to the scammer.
• Use sources such as the organisation's mobile phone app, website or social media page to verify the message. Often large organisations will have scam alert pages on their website to show clients what to watch out including details of current known scams using their branding.

If you have received one of these messages and clicked on the link, or you’re concerned your personal details have been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.

These scams are likely to increase over the coming weeks and months so take care. Remember: if in doubt, chuck it out!

Image: Be wary of COVID-19 related emails.

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