Tasmanian families urged to be vigilant online

10th August 2020

Crime Stoppers Tasmania is warning people to protect their families from cybercrime, with new research showing Tasmanians are spending more time online in the pandemic.

Crime Stoppers Tasmania CEO Mariae Leckie said cyber criminals were taking advantage of COVID-19 to target people online.

“Cybercrime includes online scams or fraud, identity theft, cyber bulling and child sexual abuse material, and with Tasmanians spending more time online, people need to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Mrs Leckie said.

New research shows 68 percent of Tasmanians say they and their loved ones are spending more time online or using internet connected devices during the pandemic.

The EMRS research was commissioned by Tasmania’s largest private sector employer Federal Group, who have sponsored Crime Stoppers Tasmania for more than 25 years.

Mrs Leckie was particularly concerned about the increased risk to children who are spending more time online.

“The pandemic has definitely heightened concerns, as predators have more access to children online than ever before, through a range of popular apps, games and social media sites,” she said.

Mrs Leckie said all members of the community are being targeted by cyber criminals.

“Results from the survey undertaken by Federal Group show a quarter of Tasmanians have experienced an increase in online scams since COVID-19 started,” she said.

“We have seen a number of recent examples, including scammers texting and emailing victims pretending to the be the tax office or Netflix.

“Speak up if you know someone or have suspicions about someone who might be participating in cybercrime or online child exploitation. We encourage Tasmanians to report cybercrime to; and also to educate themselves on cyber safety through courses like those offered at Libraries Tasmania.

“Any other suspicious criminal activity can be reported to Crime Stoppers. It’s easy and no one will ever know you did,” Mrs Leckie added.

Federal Group Executive General Manager Daniel Hanna said the latest EMRS results showed Tasmanians were also concerned about their safety offline.

“Fifty percent of Tasmanians are more concerned about their personal safety and security now, than before the pandemic,” Dr Hanna said.

“We can see from the last two surveys that concerns about personal health are on the rise again, following the outbreak in Victoria, with 63 per cent of Tasmanians saying this is a worry for them.

“But the top three concerns for Tasmanians remains the impact COVID-19 is having on local businesses (96%), jobs (96%) and the state economy (94%).

“The outbreak in Victoria is also probably the reason that people think social distancing measures will be in place longer than they originally expected. Latest results show almost 60 percent of Tasmanians expect measures to be in place for six months to two years, compared to 42 percent at the end of May.”