• Layla Eshack

Today's COVID-19 Scams and How to Stay Safe


Hackers are always updating their tactics, and they have been hard at work over the past few months developing lucrative COVID-19 scams. Cyber threat actors have been targeting individuals and small businesses more than ever. Typically these scammers are trying to steal your identity, your money, or both.


As of August 5th, COVID-19 scams have cost Americans over $98 million. Learn what to look out for and how you can protect yourself.

Text-Message Campaigns


Criminals have been engaging in large-scale text-based campaigns, sending out messages to random telephone numbers. Often these scams are offering illegitimate COVID-19 therapies, cures, and testing kits. In reality, they are scams to get you to provide personal information or money.


STAY SAFE:

Do not open links from people you don't know. Do not respond to messages from anyone who is not in your contacts. Do not give your information to anyone over text message.


Government Impersonation


Cyber threat actors have been taking advantage of Americans by posing as government organizations and health officials to collect personal information during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are attempts to steal your private information and possibly your identity.


STAY SAFE:

The government will never call you out of the blue, they typically send a letter. They will also never ask you to send money over the phone.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/sites/www.consumer.ftc.gov/files/tax_identity_theft_infographic_508_jan_2020.pdf


Contact Tracing Fraud


This has become one of the most frequent scams. Someone posing as a contact tracing service for COVID-19 will call you and attempt to collect your personal information, money, or, ideally, both.


STAY SAFE:

Legitimate contact tracers will ask about you and your health, but they never need your personal financial information or money. Never provide information you are not comfortable with, and never click on links from people outside of your contacts.


Phishing Campaigns


Phishing campaigns are unsolicited emails that are trying to get you to provide information, click on a link, or send money. Often they look legitimate, and sometimes they can look like they are from someone you know. Clicking on a malicious link can take over your system and your privacy could be compromised.


STAY SAFE:

Do not click on any links unless you know for sure who they are from and where the link takes you. Do not automatically download attachments - sometimes this is the default, so get into your settings and change it. Do not respond to any emails requesting your login information, personal finance information, or money.

Report suspicious emails and senders to FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.


Work-at-Home Schemes and Fake Job Offers


Unemployment has been at an all-time high this year. This means there are millions of unemployed Americans out there desperate for jobs so they can pay the bills and stay safe. Hackers know this and __ are taking advantage by offering phony job offers that are designed to collect your information.


STAY SAFE:

Be vigilant! Even if it seems like a great opportunity, look into it before offering any information. It could be too good to be true.


Unemployment Insurance


There have been over 50,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using stolen identities in Maryland alone. According to the FBI, “The criminals obtain the stolen identity using a variety of techniques, including the online purchase of stolen PII, previous data breaches, computer intrusions, cold-calling victims while using impersonation scams, email phishing schemes, physical theft of data from individuals or third parties, and from public websites and social media accounts, among other methods. “


STAY SAFE:

Anyone who suspects that their identity has been used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim should contact their state department of labor and complete a request for investigation.


Robocalls


Robocalls are automated mass phone calls, often pushing bogus coronavirus remedies and financial relief. These could seem like they are coming from a legitimate source, like the IRS, but they are scams.


STAY SAFE: It is highly unlikely that the IRS will call you as they communicate primarily by mail. Do not give personal information to a machine or to a stranger over the phone.


Investment Fraud


You may be contacted about what seems like an exciting opportunity to invest, possibly in a cure for the Coronavirus or a breakthrough treatment - these are scams! Any time you are contacted by a stranger to invest in something you have never heard of, you should be suspicious.


STAY SAFE: If you would legitimately like to invest in medical developments related to the

coronavirus, do diligent research before you provide any information or money.


Donations


Donating to coronavirus relief efforts is a very kind thought, but often the money donated is not really going to aid people in need. Don’t let criminals profit off of your generosity.


STAY SAFE: Research every organization before you donate. Search the organization again with the keywords “scam” or “fraud” to double-check. Resources like https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=7779 can be helpful tools to sort out the best charities to donate to.

If you have questions about the ways your business can stay protected, please contact Critical IT Solutions today. We provide customized IT support and can help you come up with a plan to stay safe. Shoot us a message about your business needs, and we will get back to you shortly.


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