Don't let scammers take advantage of news about Flight MH370 - regulator

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning consumers to beware of scammers capitalising on current events to gain access to your computer in an attempt to steal your money or identity.

“Scammers use a range of tools to trick people under the guise of topical stories or events, such as spam emails with malicious content, selling fake tickets to an event in high demand, or seeking donations to fake charities,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Today, the ACCC is warning consumers searching for information of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 to be on guard as scammers are sending links to stories infected with malware.

Scammers have been sending emails and social media messages at random with links purporting to be videos on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

The email or social media message may include text such as: ‘Malaysia Plane (MH-370) Has Been Found Near Bermuda Triangle. BBC News: Recent Video Released!’.

If you click on the link, you may be taken to a website complete with logos and branding of legitimate news sites. In order to view the video, you will be asked to install some software (such as a ‘codec’) to be able to access the video format. If you download the software, your computer will be infected with malware.

The scammers may also have set up the malware to be downloaded simply when you click on the link and view the footage. In another spin, the site that you are directed to may contain infected ads and one click could cause malware to install on your computer.

Once malware is installed, scammers can gain access to your personal information including financial details and identification. They can also use malware to remote access into your computer.

“If you receive an email or social media message out of the blue from a stranger do not click on any links or open attachments – just press ‘delete’.”

“Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. If you think your computer’s security has been compromised, use your security software to run a virus check. If you still have doubts, contact your anti-virus software provider or a computer specialist,” Ms Rickard said.

New Zealanders worried they could be targeted by an MH370 scam should contact NetSafe.

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