Digital Pandemic: Interior Ministry Warns About Fraudulent SMS

Lifestyle & TravelMore+ ♦ Published: July 26, 2021; 13:49 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Ministry of the Interior led by the Interior Minister, Karl Nehammer, is warning about fraudulent SMS circulating in Austria. The scam aims to trick people into installing malware on their mobile phones by providing a link to an alleged missed voicemail message. Learn how to protect your device and what to do if your device is infected.

People in Austria are receiving SMS with a link to a supposed voicemail message. The fraudulent link is installing malware on their devices. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Kārlis Dambrāns / CC BY (

Fraudulent SMS are circulating again, with people in Austria repeatedly receiving notifications about a missed voice message. As a result, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer is increasing the number of investigators at the Federal Criminal Police Office.

Recipients of these messages are asked to open a link on their device and subsequently install an app to access a missed voicemail message.

Regarding the issue, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said, “Combating cybercrime is one of the major challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of investigators in the federal states and in the Federal Criminal Police Office will therefore be increased.”

Malware can be removed by resetting

In the scam, short messages are sent randomly to people. The assumption that a voicemail can be retrieved is intended to encourage those affected to follow the link and download an app on the fake website. The alleged voicemail is then not displayed.

If the link has already been clicked or the malware installed, the device should be taken out of the mobile network (set to flight mode). One way the malware can be removed is by resetting the device to factory settings. Simply deleting the application is not sufficient.

The malware allows the perpetrator to delete applications and to access incoming and outgoing SMS, bank and credit card data, and contact details.

Protective measures and prevention

In early June 2021, the Ministry of the Interior warned about an SMS scam that included a link for parcel delivery. Generally, in case the malware is installed, it is recommended to inform the respective mobile service provider and financial service providers about the incident, as well as check bank account and payment data.

How to deal with fraudulent SMS

  • Do not open the link
  • Do not confirm app installation
  • Delete the SMS
  • Block the phone number

One indication of a fraudulent SMS may be that there are a noticeable number of spelling mistakes in the message.

Austrian Ministry of the Interior