Cybercrime is speading like a virus – how to prevent becoming a victim

Posted on 27/03/2020 by James Castley in COVID-19
James Castley
James Castley is a Sinclair Wilson Principal and has worked as an Accountant, providing industry best standard Taxation and Business Advice, for more than 10 years. James works with many...

The changes in how we are living and working in light of the COVID-19 pandemic have created a new threat for us to watch out for – cybersecurity.

Email and text scams and phishing attempts – created to obtain people’s bank details – are all on the rise, as cyber criminals work to capitalise on our distraction by the coronavirus, and our desperation to remain healthy and in touch with news and information relating to the pandemic.

Right now, many of us are already stressed about what is ahead – and potentially not looking at things as thoroughly as we might during times that are less unfamiliar.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre is warning people to be ‘cyber-alert, but not cyber-alarmed’, and keep an eye out for any emails or text messages relating to the coronavirus that contain a link.

To put it simply, the links in these messages are like a door to your bank details. Never open them.

You may have already received one – phishing scams using COVID-19-themed text messages are already circulating in Australia.

One that has been doing the rounds in the recent week looks as though it’s a Government-sent message, with a link to educate people about where they can be tested for coronavirus.

Beware scam emails telling you to access a link about COVID-19 information

Scam text messages are being sent, encouraging unsuspecting people to click on a link offering COVID-19 information

Instead, clicking on the link installs malware that will steal bank details.

Another is an email suggesting payment is available for staying at home during the pandemic. In this case, it’s the attachment to the email (a word document titled, ‘COVID 19 Relief) that is the dangerous element. Opening the document risks exposing your bank details.

This scam email encourages the receiver to open the attachment for information about how to secure $2500 in COVID-19-related relief funding

Our advice if you have received any of these types of messages – or if one arrives in future, is to:

  • Check the links and email addresses being used – are they from the same organisation reporting to send the sms/ email? (Don’t know how to tell? Check out our guide).
  • Always be suspicious! – If you’re not expecting the sms/ email, or if it sounds too good to be true. It most likely is.
  • Stop and think before you open any links or attachments. If you’re unsure get a 2nd opinion form a family member, college or IT professional.
  • If you have any doubt, delete!

Also keep in mind the Australian Tax Office will NEVER ask for your bank details.

Any official correspondence from the ATO will either come via us, as you tax agents, or or be visible at the Tax Agent Portal.

If you have any concerns as to the legitimacy of any ATO correspondence, contact Sinclair Wilson as soon as possible.