Hackers and cybercriminals are phishing for personal data during the coronavirus pandemic, relying on the public’s inability to spot their scams.
A recent release from the FBI's Internet Crime Complain Center offers some solid advice on what to watch out for.
"Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don't let them," the FBI said. "Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits."
Emails claiming to contain information about the spread of the coronavirus, testing and vaccines, and deposits of stimulus checks will secretly download malware that allows hackers to steal information and deliver additional malware.
The types of email you may receive to get your attention to click a malicious link or open an attachment include:
- Fake CDC or Public Health Authority emails to make you think you have been exposed to COVID-19. They may state your family may face quarantine.
- Fake IRS email asking you to verify your financial information so you can get your economic impact payment or your refund faster.
- False claims that there is a vaccine now available or signing up for free testing.
- Misleading ads about masks or other protective gear that may not be effective or other helpful hints to combat the virus.
- Email with “latest” updates to keep you informed as criminals are aware that everyone wants to know everything first.
What can I do?
- Be cautious about opening any Web links or attachments, even if you know the sender, as it may be a message from a compromised sender account.
- Look for “red flags” in emails you receive. Red flags include abnormalities in the sender, topic, links, content, etc. Check out our blog article on how to spot email red flags.
- Educate your employees about the potential for scams
- When in doubt, reach out! We’re here to serve you. If you ever are unsure – keep calm and don’t click. Give us a call if you ever need assistance.
Where can I find legitimate information about the coronavirus?
It’s smart to go directly to reliable sources for information about the coronavirus. That includes government offices and health care agencies.
Here are a few of the best places to find answers to your questions about the coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC website includes the most current information about the coronavirus. Here’s a partial list of topics covered.
- How the coronavirus spreads
- Prevention and treatment
- Cases in the U.S.
- Global locations with COVID-19
- Information for communities, schools, and businesses
World Health Organization. WHO provides a range of information, including how to protect yourself, travel advice, and answers to common questions.
National Institutes of Health. NIH provides updated information and guidance about the coronavirus. It includes information from other government organizations.
President/CEO, DE Web Works