As the coronavirus threat spreads, we take protective measures such as social distancing, wearing face masks in public places, washing our hands and disinfecting our surfaces. Unfortunately, there’s a threat outside of our physical health that we also need to protect ourselves against – Cybercrime. Cybercriminals are targeting people while they’re most vulnerable. In 2019, American’s lost $1.9 billion to scams. We need to be vigilant not just about our health, but also about our cybersecurity during this time.
Coronavirus Scams and How to Avoid Them
Communications from imposter government or financial agencies
Some of the most popular ways scammers will target you is through email, phone call, or even text message. You could be receiving these communications from scammers claiming to be the IRS, CDC, Charles Schwab, or other government or financial agencies.
Stimulus Check Scams
As stimulus checks come out, many scammers are claiming to be the IRS and will contact you to steal your personal information or infect your device with malware. The IRS will never request personal information from you through calls, texts, or emails.
Phishing is when a scammer tries to disguise his or her real identity to trick you into divulging personal information such as social security numbers, account logins, etc. For example, scammers posing as financial institutions may be emailing you with messages saying that “due to market volatility… we need you to update your account details.” Phishing emails often have some tell-tale signs that differentiate them from the real thing.
How to spot red flags:
- Hover over any links before clicking on them and double check the URL matches the link.
- Check the sender’s email address, not just their name. Anyone can create an email and call themselves, “Charles Schwab”.
- The sender is “urgently requesting” personal information
- The sender/caller doesn’t know your name
- Often phishing emails contain many spelling and grammar errors
- Hang up on robocalls
Currently there’s a lot of malicious websites floating around that claim to help you work remotely or help those afflicted.
Here are some examples to watch out for:
Fake IT Help Desk
Scammers will target large corporations that they know are working from home, by posing as their “IT helpdesk” website to infect their network systems and steal company data.
Fraudulent donation websites are popping up that are taking advantage of charitable people by claiming that they’re helping coronavirus victims. These scammers will not only steal your “donation,” but they will also steal your credit card details and they may infect your computer with malware. If you’d like to help individuals and families impacted by coronavirus, we suggest looking into established charities such as your local food bank.
Products that claim to cure, prevent or test for COVID-19
Many scams revolve around the idea that they have some kind of test, cure, or vaccine for COVID-19.
While our government is working on vaccines and treatment, at this time, there are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. Anyone claiming otherwise is trying to trick you.
The FDA has announced approval for an in-home test kit, however, the only way to get this test is with a doctor’s order. Any other advertising you see for in-home test kits online are scams.
We’re in this together
If you’ve encountered something that seems suspicious, it probably is. If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can send your advisor an email or drop us a note below.
Useful links: https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice
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