Cyber alert: Malicious emails, messages and phone calls relating to COVID-19

2 April 2020
The Victorian Government Cyber Incident Response Service Unit (CIRS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (the department) warns that COVID-19 related cyber threats are increasing.

Cyber criminals are creating phishing, spear phishing and thousands of fake webpages, including references to COVID-19, to trick individuals into providing sensitive information.

Please be wary of suspicious or COVID-19 related emails, messages and phone calls purporting to be representing the department. See below for guidance:

How do I know if the email, phone call or SMS is legitimate?

  • Hover over the sender’s email address and right click on your mouse to reveal the sender’s details
  • If possible, call the sender on a trusted phone number to verify they sent it
  • Use links that you have used in the past

What do I do if I suspect that the email, phone call or SMS is NOT legitimate?

If you receive an email from a source purporting to represent the department or another institution:

  • Do not open or respond to the email
  • Do not download any attachments or click on any links
  • Provide a screenshot to IT service provider
  • Do not delete the email, until instructed otherwise by your IT service provider.

If you receive a phone call or SMS with threats of cancellation of services:

  • Do not respond to the request and hang up
  • Contact your IT service provider
  • Contact the relevant institution, if appropriate.

If you receive a phone call requesting information or payment from a person representing themselves in an official capacity:

  • Do not respond to the request and hang up
  • Contact your IT service provider
  • Contact the relevant institution, if appropriate.

By following this framework, you can be protected from any cyber threats during the COVID-19 period.

Further information

Check the authenticity of COVID-19 messages by visiting the department's official website.

Keep well-informed of scams reported by the Australian community by visiting Stay Smart Online.