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.
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