Health authorities slam COVID app message hoax

Font Size:

Health authorities have slammed a hoax message claiming to come from the government’s new COVIDSafe app.

Authorities say that the message, which is being circulated online, claims to detect when a user has moved an unwarranted distance from their nominated location. It appears to have been sent by the app, but it isn’t.

The message reads: “The COVIDsafe app has detected you are now +20km from your nominated home address.

“Please register your reason for travel by calling 1300 1MY GOV within 15 minutes of receiving this SMS.”

More than 2.5 million Australians have downloaded the COVIDSafe app since it became available on Sunday. It was downloaded by more than a million people within five hours of being launched on Sunday evening.

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed to that the message was a hoax.

“It is abhorrent that scammers would attempt to use the COVIDSafe app, a public health tool, to try to catch out Australians,” the spokesperson said.

“The COVIDSafe App does not have any geolocation capability; it does not track your location, only the proximity of your phone to other people’s phones that have downloaded the app, and cannot monitor a person’s location at any time.

“The app does not register a person’s home address and it does not share or send any information with anyone, until authorised by the user, if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and then only to state and territory health officials involved in contact tracing.”

COVIDSafe is designed to help health officials identify people who have come into contact with somebody infected with the disease through a voluntary sign-up process. It is downloaded to a mobile phone. The app uses bluetooth short-range wireless communication technology to anonymously record users who are within 1.5 metres of each other for about 15 minutes.

Responding to privacy concerns, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the commonwealth would never have access to the data collected.

“We have locked this down so completely, so thoroughly with the biosecurity rule, with legislation that is coming – the only people who can access the data are the state and territory health officials,” he said.

“We have a compact with the Australian public – this app will only ever be used by public health officials in the purposes of contact tracing.”

Digital rights advocates have been demanding the release of the app’s source code.

Health minister Greg Hunt said that was coming within two weeks.

Have you downloaded the app? Will you? Did you receive the hoax message? Does that concern you?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


A million Australians download government’s COVIDSafe app in five hours

The government's controversial tracing app was downloaded by a million people in just five hours.

GPs issue warning for people ignoring health concerns

A warning for people neglecting health concerns during the pandemic.

'Smart toilet' monitors for signs of disease

There's a new disease-detecting technology in the lab, and its No. 1 source of data is number one.

Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 9
  1. 0

    Well, that didn’t take long did it? Scammers and hackers at work on this app already. Are these messages going out out to people who have installed the app only or any iphone?
    If only to those who have installed the app then the system is already compromised. so much for security. We have your number!

    • 0

      I think it is fishing text messages etc. I get emails from banks that I am not with
      telling that my bank account has been comprimised etc. of course possibly 1 in every 10 emails is going to find a person that is actually with that bank company and might get sucked in to clicking on the link and entering their id and password etc.

      Within minutes of them submitting, the people on the other side would have got in and wipped out the bank account etc. or changed the password too allow them time to work on the account.

    • 0

      Someone makes up a scam and you straight away assume it’s the App that’s been hacked. Lol

      Scammers when dealing with phone numbers send millions of messages to random computer generate phone numbers, some are real numbers some are not.

  2. 0

    probably any iphone, maybe andtoid was ignored !

  3. 0

    Yep loaded with an hour of it going live. I am a health care worker. I need the app to work for me!

  4. 0

    Well, that was predictable. Amazon often get hacked. One of the reasons I’m not downloading the app.

    • 0

      You idiot, nothing to do with the App.

      Scammers send millions of messages to computer generated random phone numbers, some numbers are real and some are not, makes no difference.

      Nothing has been hacked, just normal scammers at work.

  5. 0

    I was very keen to download the COVIDSafe app and tried to do so very soon after it became available and even though my Samsung phone is not top of the range I expected to be able to do so. However I am unable to download it because it is not available as an app on my phone.
    I have checked every day and despite following the instructions shown in articles about the app it cannot be found on my phone. So much for encouraging everyone to download it

    • 0

      They want as many as possible, they are not expecting everyone to do, obviously some people have old phones, some people have Microsoft phones (no App for them) and some people have NO phones. It would be great if everyone who CAN download it do so, the rest miss out, that’s life.



continue reading


Enthralling, dystopian, sublime: NGV Triennial has a huge 'wow' factor

Refik Anadol: Quantum memories 2020 (render) custom software, quantum computing, generative algorithm with artificial intelligence (AI), real time digital animation...


Where to eat, drink and play on Kangaroo Island

Australia's third largest island is an oasis of pristine wilderness, premium produce and hidden secrets ripe for discovery. Easily accessible...


Will you need a vaccination to visit Australian venues?

State premiers have suggested that once vaccinations begin in Australia, those without vaccinations may be banned from visiting some venues...


Enjoy these islands while you can

Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Greg Brave/Shutterstock Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, University of South Australia I fell for Kangaroo Island from...

New South Wales

Four fabulous events announced for Mardi Gras 2021

Mardi Gras is famous for its world-class comedy, performances, vibrant colours and characters. And this year will be no exception....


Why the royal family retreats to Scotland every year

"To aim for the highest point is not the only way to climb a mountain," wrote Nan Shepherd in her...


The five stages of losing your Airbnb virginity

Airbnb was set up more than a decade ago - first called Air Bed & Breakfast - and now boasts...


Overseas travel remains unlikely this year

As the vaccine rollout in Australia gets closer, many thoughts may be turning to exactly how long we have to...