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How to protect yourself against the latest COVID-19 vaccination scams

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a warning to Australians about scammers using calls, SMS and emails to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

COVID-19 vaccination scams have been used by cyber criminals to target Australians throughout the pandemic.

The ACCC Scamwatch has reported that 6,120 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus has resulted in more than $8.4m in losses since the pandemic began.

The objective for these scammers is to either achieve a financial gain or to steal your identity, personal information and passwords.

With this heightened alert, Mark Gorrie, senior director for NortonLifeLock has provided some tips to help you stay safe.

– Keep your VPN turned on. Unencrypted connections may give cyber criminals a chance to snoop on data being sent and received by your device. Using a VPN helps ensure the data transferred to and from your account is encrypted and unreadable.

– Beware of COVID-19 themed phishing emails. Cyber criminals are exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to send fake emails with dangerous links to employees. Here’s how it works: emails may appear to come from company officials, government or health bodies and might ask you to open a link to a new company policy related to the coronavirus. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, you are likely to download malware onto your device. Don’t click on the link. Instead, immediately report the phishing attempt to your employer and run a scan on your computer.

– Only use trusted sites when providing your personal information. A good rule of thumb is to check the URL. If the site includes “https://,” then it’s a secure site. If the URL includes “http://,” — note the missing “s” — avoid entering sensitive information like your credit card data or Tax File Number.

– Don’t open email attachments or click links in emails from unknown sources. One of the most common ways people are exposed to malware and viruses is through emails disguised as being sent by someone you trust.

– Back up your files regularly for extra protection in the event of a cyber security attack. If you need to wipe your device clean due to a cyber attack, it will help to have your files stored in a safe, separate place.