Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to make a quick buck. Learn about the latest scams and how to protect yourself from malware, phishing, and donation scams. Get your information from reputable sources like the WHO and CDC.
Scams are everywhere. It seems like every day I’m readingnews about a different type of scam on a social network, by text, throughlisting sites and even on the phone. As you can imagine, with the majorpublicity that anything Coronavirus-related has been getting, it was just amatter of time before the scams would start to show up. These unscrupulouspeople will stop at nothing and will create anything they have to do to makequick buck such as setting up websites, fake companies and their favorite,posting on social media and impersonating actual agencies. Here are some of thelatest ones I discussed in my tech segment on Despierta America.
The FTC recently sent out a ceaseand desist to seven companies that were making unsubstantiated claims thattheir products can treat or even prevent the Coronavirus. I’m sure the list ofpeople doing this is way longer than seven but it’s a start.
Be careful with any e-mail, text or social media postclaiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World HealthOrganization (WHO) selling miracle cures as this is simply not true.
When you get a message about these topics, be very careful,especially if they are sending you links for you to click on. This could be thebait to install malware on your computer or phone and steal your information.Alternatively, they could be requesting you to donate, verify your informationor enticing you to provide your contact info, credit card, etc. Don’t do it.
Phishing is when you get an e-mail that looks legitimatewith a scary subject such as “New Coronavirus COVID-19 Cases in Your Area”.It’s hard not to open that. I think that if these guys worked for mediapublications, they would make millions in clickbait headlines alone, but Idigress. When you do investigate further, you find that the links on thesee-mails actually link to websites setup by the bad guys to infect your computeror try to get some personal information from you.
The security firm Trustwave uncovered this phishing e-mail that shows clearly how the URL displayed on the e-mail is not the same as the one being clicked on.
These phishing e-mails may want you to open an attachment toinfect your system with malware, that’s why they will disguise it as “importantinformation” or a form for you to fill out, or a map of infections in yourarea. Basically, anything that makes you want to click and open it. Onceinstalled, this malware could be stealing your credentials to login towebsites, harvest your credit card information, use your camera to spy on you,take over your social media accounts and even lock your information and demand ransompayment. You name it. Don’t do it!
A popular scam when there are natural disasters and thesetypes of events is to use social engineering tactics to get people tocontribute to false causes, charities, etc. If you want to contribute to acharity, always verify that’s an actual credible charity by visiting Charity Navigator. Even if you canverify it exists, never donate via a link somebody posted on social media orsent you via email or text, it could be a site that looks just like it designedto capture your information and credit card.
A case of this in relation to the Coronavirus would be tosetup a website selling masks, disinfectants or even hand sanitizer in otherwords, articles in high demand. Everything looks legit, the website works, theywill take your payment but never deliver the goods. This way, they can scamthousands of people into buying and since the delivery for these items may takea few days, they can rake in the dollars while they are being found out.
It’s hard to identify these sites but a tell-tale sign is tovisit their social media profiles and see how long they’ve been posting. Also,you can check out the domainWHOIS database that will give you information on when it was registered.Check out the creation date of this domain and you’ll see if they’ve beenaround or if this is a recent domain.
In the end, if you want to find out about the virus, it’sbetter to visit the reputable websites that are providing the informationdirectly.
The most trusted sources at the moment in the Coronavirusscare are the WorldHealth Organization and the Centers for DiseaseControl. Visit their websites to get the latest information about thevirus, prevention and treatment.
Bad people are always going to try to prey on us by scaring us, confusing us or trying to take advantage of our good nature. Let’s try to stay ahead of them and make their endeavors very unprofitable, perhaps, if this happens, they will do something else. Hopefully something good.