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Common COVID-19 Scams

Scammers have fully taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to steal from people with common COVID-19 scams. They have sold fake cures and offered fake vaccines. Others have sold fake equipment and stolen information from businesses and individuals. Governments continue rolling out COVID-19 programs and initiatives. Accordingly, criminals are expected to continue their shameless trends.

Here are five common scams:

1.    Common COVID-19 Scams: Phishing emails

Phishing emails are a common way for scammers to get access to your device and your information. Consequently, these emails target individuals and organizations alike, and are responsible for some of the hacks these organizations face.

The common phishing scams during the pandemic target such areas as:

  • Vaccine registration and waiting lists
  • Vaccine coverage information
  • Places you can find the vaccine
  • Ways to reserve the vaccine
  • Vaccine requirements

Some phishing emails are easy to detect, as they come with spelling and other errors. However, criminals are also becoming more sophisticated. As a result, they and can compose convincing emails that could pass for legitimate messages. Therefore, you should be vigilant with emails you receive from unverified or unsolicited sources.

Here are signs that you are dealing with a phishing email:

  • The email requires you to take immediate action
  • It is overly formal or complicated
  • It requests sensitive information
  • The email requires you to open a link or attachment
  • It might request you to follow a non-standard procedure, such as paying for a government service with gift cards

2.    Malicious Websites

Cyber threats have been a constant since the start of the pandemic. Naturally, criminals were quick to capitalize on the global interest the pandemic generated. New domains related to COVID-19 were developed, with some impersonating legitimate sites to propagate misinformation, confusion, and fake cures. Some of these websites might seem to share information related to the virus. However, their major goal is to collect your information or money, or to infect your devices with malicious software.

3.    Unemployment Scams

Many people lost their jobs during the pandemic.  In light of this, unemployment claims have been on the rise. Thus, criminals also take advantage of the situation to steal your benefits. Therefore, you should be wary of communication that refers to unemployment benefits. You should also be wary of emails that require you to take immediate action, or to pay to receive your benefits.

4.    Vaccine Scams

Vaccines are currently in distribution. Thus, criminals run all sorts of scams including:

  • Vaccine survey scams (with a reward)
  • Vaccine waiting list scams (where the scammer asks you to pay to be on the vaccine list)
  • Fake vaccines
  • Offers to ship vaccines
  • Early access to the vaccine at a fee
  • Mandatory COVID-19 test
  • Pay for vaccine scams
  • Vaccine appointment scams where the criminal asks you to schedule a vaccine appointment through an unverified platform

5.    Fraudulent Charities

Criminals also set up fake non-profit organizations that seek donations for illegitimate or non-existent organizations. Therefore, you must do your research before donating to any organization.

Recommendations

It is important to stay safe and protect yourself from the virus. Simultaneously, it’s also important to be aware of ways criminals might try to take advantage of your to steal your information or money. Thus, RKN Global notes how important it is to take precautions.   A few ideas include:

  • First, implement cybersecurity initiatives to keep your information safe and filter out potential phishing emails
  • Second, report any suspicious activity to your organization (for emails that target organizations) and report to consumer protection agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission
  • Regularly update your passwords and ensure that these passwords are strong enough

 

 

 

How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Scams

You can be certain that as long as the pandemic continues, criminals will continue to come up with frauds and scams to take advantage of the situation. Fraudsters use all manner of threats and coercion to compel you to take the steps they want. They may contact you via phone, leave mail for you, or even send emails offering you their products or services threatening the loss of certain privileges or benefits.  It is important to take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams:

Here are simple steps you can take:

Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Scams by Visiting Authoritative Sources Directly

Spoofing calls or emails appear to be from a legitimate organization. They will have a name and logo that match the legitimate company or agency. They also include a link that leads you to a spoofed website to collect your information, or which causes you to download malicious software onto your device.

To avoid such scams, you can visit authoritative sites directly. This is critical since many scammers take advantage of the pandemic by masquerading as legitimate sources such as the WHO, CDC, IRS, pharmaceutical companies, and other organizations at the front line of the fight against COVID-19.

To protect yourself from COVID-19 scams, exercise caution when you receive requests for information

Scammers often target their victims’ personal or financial information. The goal is to use this information to commit fraud. Take your time to evaluate the messages you receive before taking action. Let the message marinate until you can take the information in without overreacting. This is especially important with messages that demand immediate action to avoid dire consequences. Alternatively, you can just delete the message. Note that scammers often request money through untraceable means such as gift cards, wire transfers, and virtual currencies, which are harder to track.  These are a red flag.

Donate Directly to Charitable Causes

Scammers take advantage of people’s desire to help in times of crisis. They may set up spoof websites and send donation requests to unsuspecting victims, leading them to donate to criminals.

If you receive a donation request, you can search for the nonprofit on charitynavigator.com to check whether they are registered. If you have donated to the charity before, do not use the link provided in the email or text. Instead, visit the charity directly and donate through their secure platforms.

Double Check Email Addresses and Links before You Click

Many scammers will send links with spelling errors or additional numbers, but which look very similar to a legitimate site. To read the link address, you can hover above the link without clicking.

Another precaution to take with links and email addresses is to verify the contents of the email by searching online for other people’s encounters.  Searches you make could include terms such as “complaint,” “scam” or “reviews”.

Take Steps to Protect Your Accounts

Two-factor authentication is important to protect your accounts from unauthorized access. For instance, you can add your password as the first layer of security, and set up the service you are logging into so it sends a one-time password (OTP) as the second layer of security.

 

 

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