Hoaxes and scams
During our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queensland Government may contact you via text message (SMS), email or phone to provide vital information. The contact may come from Queensland Health, a public health unit or another government agency.
However, we have received reports of COVID-19 themed hoax text messages (SMS) and emails, often linked to phishing schemes. Examples have included notifying people they are a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 positive case or requesting details to confirm a COVID-19 vaccination booking including payments.
The following information will help you determine if a message received is genuinely from the Queensland Government or if it may be a scam.
What is phishing?
Phishing occurs when a scammer attempts to trick you into providing your personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing scams can be conducted by email, social media, phone calls and text messages. Cyber criminals often try to gain your trust by impersonating a legitimate business such as your bank or a government body.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website provides more details on phishing scams, including warning signs to look out for.
COVID-19 contact from the Queensland Government
The Queensland Government, for example, Queensland Health, the Queensland Health Health Contact Centre, Smart Services Queensland or a public health unit may contact you via email, SMS or by phone call during the pandemic:
- To advise you have been identified as a close, casual or low risk contact to a COVID-19 positive person
- To advise of testing requirements
- To confirm a vaccination appointment
- To advise of changes to a vaccination appointment
- As part of the business registration process for the Check In Qld app
- For compliance and welfare checks during home and hotel quarantine
- To send notifications related to the Queensland Border Direction Pass or Queensland Travel Declaration.
A legitimate email, SMS or phone call from the Queensland Government will never ask you to provide personal details such as your passwords or financial information.
In most cases, links included in emails or SMSs from the Queensland Government will include the qld.gov.au domain in the link address.
The Queensland Government may also use the Emergency Alert system to contact you about COVID-19. This number is 0444 444 444. Please do not block the number. If you do, you will no longer receive alerts to your phone in life-threatening emergency situations such as bushfires and cyclones.
Messages about contact tracing
Some hoaxes claim to be about Queensland Health’s contact tracing efforts. Please be aware that:
- Queensland Health representatives do contact close, casual and low risk contacts using data collected from the Check In Qld app and other sources.
- You can check Queensland Health’s contact tracing page to ensure the location, timing and requested action outlined in the communication is accurate.
- No one will need access to your computer or device over the phone for contact tracing purposes.
- If you are a genuine close contact and have not responded to SMSs or phone calls, the Public Health Team will continue to attempt to make contact.
Messages about the COVID-19 vaccination
Some hoaxes specifically relate to bookings for the COVID-19 vaccination. Please be aware that:
- The COVID-19 vaccine is free—there is no need for you to provide payment or financial details.
- No one will need access to your computer to book an appointment for you.
- No payment or different booking system will allow you to jump the queue and receive your vaccine before you're eligible.
- Follow-up safety monitoring surveys are sent to people after a vaccination, however they will only come from AusVaxSafety, SmartVax or a state health department.
What do I do if I think I’ve received a hoax message?
If you receive a message that may be a hoax:
- delete the message
- do not click on any links
- do not provide personal or financial information.
If you have already clicked the link, or given personal or financial information to the sender, contact your financial institution immediately for advice.
It is always safest to delete suspicious messages that may be a hoax. You can call 134 COVID (13 42 68) to verify any communication from the Queensland Government.
For more information visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission: Scam watch.