As COVID-19 continues to create new changes to our everyday lives, it’s important to be more vigilant. Unfortunately, there are people that will take advantage of this vulnerable time and use it as an opportunity to scam victims out of money or to gain access to valuable information.
There are numerous ways scammers are using the evolving pandemic to trick many into divulging sensitive information or attaining funds.
Phishing emails are the most common means by which scammers successfully trick victims to click malicious links, open malicious attachments, or take other actions that may result in the scammer gaining access to sensitive information or funds.
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As you may know, phishing emails aren't new, but with these messages coming at a time when fear and confusion are rampant, there is an increased likelihood that you may fall prey to them if you’re not careful.
The following are some examples of what scammers may send to your email:
Requesting Money for COVID-19
Scammers will try to lure potential victims with emails requesting them to wire money or order gift cards as part of a company’s response efforts to the current crisis. There can also be emails promising all sorts of new investment opportunities related to finding a cure for COVID-19 and other money making opportunities.
Offering Financial Relief from the Government
In some cases scammers are claiming that they can help individuals and businesses receive money from the government quickly, regardless of whether the individual or business meets the criteria set by the government for qualifying for these funds.
Posing as the CDC or WHO
There are emails circulating that appear to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) with “experts” claiming they have information about the virus. These messages can contain malware or have links to malicious sites. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC and the WHO official websites.
Posing as Fake Charitable Organizations
These fake charities are springing up everywhere because scammers know that most people want to help out in some way. Some research is necessary to avoid falling victim and to ensure your donations actually reach those you want to help. This article shows you how to make sure the organization is legitimate.
Contrary to many claims, there are currently no vaccines, pills, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to cure the virus. There's a slew of misinformation that contributes to the confusion surrounding the pandemic. Doing your own research is key, and verifying the information you read will avoid contributing to the confusion.
Steps you can take to avoid falling prey to phishing scams:
Scrutinize emails and other messages you recieve.
Be careful when interacting with messages especially when they are unexpected or unsolicited.
Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments included in such suspicious messages.
When prompted to visit a website for any sensitive/financial transactions it is best to enter the known web address directly into your browser instead of clicking on URL links.
If you must click URL links, hover over the link to verify that it actually goes to the intended website. The true address of the URL link will appear at the bottom-left corner. (Note that there are limitations to this feature on mobile phones.)
It’s of the utmost importance to remain vigilant and scrutinize all communication and information you receive. If you want more resources on COVID-19 we’ve got a guide to help you navigate these challenging times here.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.