Coronavirus Scams and the Tools That Can Protect Us
Scammers are quick to capitalize on fear and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception. The coronavirus has created an environment in which scammers are able to thrive and as the situation surrounding the virus grows worse and panic escalates, scammers are finding new ways to exploit people using a variety of different methods.
Don’t fall victim to their scams. In the midst of this coronavirus chaos, it’s important for you, your friends and your family to be aware of the latest ways that scammers are trying to access your information. In this article, we’ll run through the latest coronavirus scams and who they’re aimed at, how you can spot a coronavirus scam and the tools that are available to help protect you.
Types of Scams
New coronavirus scams are being invented every day, ranging from traditional methods such as phishing emails through to fraudulent text messages and phone calls where scammers pose as health workers or Government officials.
These phishing attempts are cleverly disguised and replicate communications sent by real organizations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These scams are designed to trick you into providing personal information by encouraging you to visit fake websites and download malware onto your device.
Speaking of fake websites, the coronavirus outbreak has led to a surge in fake online stores where scammers claim to sell medical and cleaning supplies that are in high demand. Items purchased will never be sent as they don’t exist.
Coronavirus scammers are also targeting people with ads, selling items that they claim cures or prevents the spread of coronavirus. At the time of writing, no such products – whether that’s pills, vaccines, potions, medicines or any other prescription – currently exist. Never buy any items claiming to cure or prevent coronavirus.
Watch out for charity scams too, where scammers claim to take donations on behalf of groups and individuals affected by the coronavirus. Only donate your money to registered charities and organizations.
Who They’re Aimed At
Who Are They Targeting?
Coronavirus scams are designed to target vulnerable people who are scared and are therefore more susceptible to their preying tactics. Older people are particularly vulnerable, as many older people won’t have the same experience with technology as younger people and won’t be able to spot phishing scams as easily.
That said, nobody is safe from coronavirus scammers. Business owners and their employees are being targeted too, with a variety of cleverly designed coronavirus scams aimed at businesses. Many employees are now working from home and coronavirus scammers are using this as an opportunity to target people with the CEO scam. This is where the scammer contacts an employee from an email address disguised as their boss, asking for money to be transferred to an account which they’ll usually claim is a client or supplier.
There’s a similar version of this scam in which employees will be contacted in the same way but this time by a person claiming to be from I.T. support. It’s easy for scammers to do a quick search on your company and take on the identity of someone who works there. Never hand over your personal information or give anyone access to your machine until you’ve personally contacted your line manager and verified such requests.
Tips For Spotting a Scam
Being more vigilant in this time of panic and being aware of the types of tactics that coronavirus scammers are using will help you spot and stop any attempts that are made to access your information.
The Small Details
Check all communications for errors – phishing emails usually contain careless spelling errors and bad grammar
Carefully check email addresses. Phishing emails will be sent from addresses where the sender’s name displays as an official organization, but their email address will contain minor spelling variations, usually an extra comma, full stop or dash
Never buy any items that claim to cure or prevent coronavirus
Don’t buy items that are in high demand from websites you’ve never heard of before. If prices seem too good to be true, that’s usually because they’re fake
Be cautious of strangers. While many people are acting in good faith right now, buying shopping and useful items for neighbors, coronavirus scammers will take advantage of people’s intentions
Never download files from unfamiliar people as they’re usually phishing scams
Be cautious of emails sent from any individual or organization that has never contacted you before and never open attachments that you weren’t expecting
Tools That Can Help
In addition to being aware of coronavirus scams, there are a number of tools that are available to help protect you, your friends and your family.
Installing the latest antivirus software will ensure that if your devices are infected with malware, you’ll be immediately alerted and will be able to take the necessary action to remove it
Contact your mobile phone or landline provider to ask them to block withheld numbers from unidentified callers
No matter how secure your network is, there’s always a risk it could be accessed by scammers. Installing a VPN will help protect your devices and your information by encrypting your data
With so much uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus as businesses find themselves seeking financial support and individuals can’t get access to the goods and medicines they need, it’s no surprise that scammers are using this as an opportunity to profit. Scammers will continue to come up with new methods of trying to access your information as the situation surrounding coronavirus worsens.
Thankfully, many of the most common coronavirus scams can be easily detected and avoided by being vigilant and treating all the communications that you receive at this time with extra caution. Following the advice in this article and utilizing the tools that are available to protect your information, such as VPNs, is a sure way of keeping you, your friends and your family safe from scammers.
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