Washing hands, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distance with others are just a few of the many precautionary measures that we can all do to keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy. Taken together, every little bit helps when everybody plays their part.
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there right now trying to exploit our other known human weaknesses, using the fog of confusion around the Coronavirus and COVID-19 to try and hack online accounts and exploit online activity.
Empeople has gathered the latest information on how to recognize and avoid these nefarious actors.
COVID-19 has seen a rise in online fraud and scams, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) has published detailed warnings and tips to help avoid falling victim.
The CISA encourages individuals to remain vigilant and take the following precautions:
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. See Using Caution with Email Attachments and Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.
- Use trusted sources—foremost legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
- Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.
- You can read the Defending Against COVID-19 Cyber Scams advisory from CISA.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has published a list of common scam indicators in online extortion schemes that are capitalizing on current events. IC3 says scammers adapt their tactics to new trends in an attempt to seem more authentic:
- Email from an unknown sender written in broken English with grammatical errors.
- Proof of your username or password provided at the beginning of the e-mail or letter.
- Claims that “Serious spyware and adware infect your computer,” or “I have a recorded video of you” as an explanation of how the information was allegedly gathered.
- Threats to send video or other compromising information to family, friends, coworkers, or social network contacts if a ransom is not paid.
- Email or letter provides a short window to pay, typically 48 hours.
- Victim instructed to pay ransom in Bitcoin, an anonymous virtual currency.
Combatting COVID-19 Fraud
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has set up a national COVID-19 disaster fraud hotline. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home by calling (866) 720-5721 or submit the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
Empeople remains committed to the safety and success of our members and staff. Remember we will never as for any personal information via email or text. If you have questions about your online financial safety, please call us at (800) 338-6730 or email [email protected].