Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Alert

Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) it may take longer than usual to address all reports or enquiries made with our investigation teams.

Please continue to submit reports and we will review them as soon as possible.

If you are worried about your safety or are at risk of harm right now contact police immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

If you need someone to talk to and are under 25, contact Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
For all other ages, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Catfishing

Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they’re not by using social media to create a false identity, usually to defraud or scam someone else.

They often make up life stories, use other people’s photos and even develop extensive fake life experiences, jobs or friends. Sometimes they trick someone into believing they are in an online romance and use this as a means to ask for money, gifts or nudes.

What to do

Trust your instincts

If it sounds too good to be true, chances are you’re probably right. Always be on your guard if someone randomly makes contact out of the blue — just like you would be in real life if someone stopped you on the street. Trust your instincts — if their story isn’t matching up or is inconsistent, you’re right to be suspicious of them.

Do they seem to know a lot about you? 

If they seem to know a lot about you and appear to share many of the same interests as you, this is a warning sign. It could be an amazing coincidence, but it could also be the result of extensive online research about you. 

Check your privacy settings and make sure you are comfortable with the amount of personal information you are putting out there. Read our article about how to manage your digital reputation or find out more about privacy settings in the eSafety Guide.

Check them out

Verify their picture using a Google reverse image search. If the photo is connected to lots of different names or is literally the picture of an actor or celebrity, things might be a bit fishy.

Check them out on other social media sites. If they have a low friend count this is a giveaway. You can bet it’s a fake if they’ve barely posted anything or don’t have any tagged photos.

Do they want nudes only?

Be wary of people who only want you to send pictures of yourself, especially nude ones. Definitely refrain from telling them anything too personal until you are 100% sure they are who they say they are. If they are pressuring you to send photos, block them and check out our advice. 

Report fake accounts

Social media platforms have tools that allow you to report fake accounts. The eSafety Guide has reporting links for social media, games and apps.

If you are worried about something you sent them, or they have access to intimate images, see our advice on someone is threatening to share my nudes for more help.