Telstra is among the local companies whose brands have been hijacked by online scammers trying to make a buck from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch has received 94 reports of coronavirus scams since 1 January 2020, and has warned that the figure is expected to climb.
In these scams, legitimate businesses and organisations are being impersonated. Of particular note was a scam supposedly coming from Telstra in relation to a free streaming service.
“Scamwatch has received reports of an alleged free streaming service claiming to be from Telstra, trying to obtain credit card details,” an ACCC spokesperson told ARN.
In addition to Telstra, other brands impersonated include official organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Australia’s Department of Health, along with travel agents.
Another scam to be wary of involves online stores that claim to sell vaccines or cures for COVID-19 according to ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.
“There is no known vaccine or cure for coronavirus and a vaccine isn’t expected to be available for 18 months,” Rickard said.
“Do not buy any products that claim to prevent or cure you of COVID-19. They simply don’t exist.”
Additionally, some online stores claim to sell preventative products like face masks and then do not provide the goods after completing a transaction.
This warning follows those made by Telstra and the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre, altering Australian businesses to a text message scam affecting Android device users.
“Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around COVID-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people,” she added.
“Understandably, people want information on the pandemic, but they should be wary of emails or text messages claiming to be from experts.
“For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization websites directly.”