Scams are everywhere. It seems like every day I’m reading news about a different type of scam on a social network, by text, through listing sites and even on the phone. As you can imagine, with the major publicity that anything Coronavirus-related has been getting, it was just a matter of time before the scams would start to show up. These unscrupulous people will stop at nothing and will create anything they have to do to make quick buck such as setting up websites, fake companies and their favorite, posting on social media and impersonating actual agencies. Here are some of the latest ones I discussed in my tech segment on Despierta America.
There is no cure at the moment, especially not a miracle one
The FTC recently sent out a cease and desist to seven companies that were making unsubstantiated claims that their products can treat or even prevent the Coronavirus. I’m sure the list of people doing this is way longer than seven but it’s a start.
Be careful with any e-mail, text or social media post claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) selling miracle cures as this is simply not true.
Don’t click on unsolicited links
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 the bait to install malware on your computer or phone and steal your information. Alternatively, they could be requesting you to donate, verify your information or enticing you to provide your contact info, credit card, etc. Don’t do it.
Be careful with Phishing
Phishing is when you get an e-mail that looks legitimate with 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 media publications, they would make millions in clickbait headlines alone, but I digress. When you do investigate further, you find that the links on these e-mails actually link to websites setup by the bad guys to infect your computer or 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.
Never open attachments
These phishing e-mails may want you to open an attachment to infect your system with malware, that’s why they will disguise it as “important information” or a form for you to fill out, or a map of infections in your area. Basically, anything that makes you want to click and open it. Once installed, this malware could be stealing your credentials to login to websites, 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 ransom payment. You name it. Don’t do it!
Beware of the donation scams
A popular scam when there are natural disasters and these types of events is to use social engineering tactics to get people to contribute to false causes, charities, etc. If you want to contribute to a charity, always verify that’s an actual credible charity by visiting Charity Navigator. Even if you can verify it exists, never donate via a link somebody posted on social media or sent you via email or text, it could be a site that looks just like it designed to capture your information and credit card.
A case of this in relation to the Coronavirus would be to setup a website selling masks, disinfectants or even hand sanitizer in other words, articles in high demand. Everything looks legit, the website works, they will take your payment but never deliver the goods. This way, they can scam thousands of people into buying and since the delivery for these items may take a 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 to visit their social media profiles and see how long they’ve been posting. Also, you can check out the domain WHOIS 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 been around or if this is a recent domain.
Do your homework!
In the end, if you want to find out about the virus, it’s better to visit the reputable websites that are providing the information directly.
The most trusted sources at the moment in the Coronavirus scare are the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Visit their websites to get the latest information about the virus, 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.