Online scammers are quick to take advantage of people's fears about something. Not surprisingly, the latest crop of online scams relates to the coronavirus. The FBI has warned about emails that are being used to entice individuals to provide personal and financial information or enable hackers to access a person's computer or mobile device. Here are a few to watch out for:
- Emails from the CDC or other organizations purporting to give COVID information. These emails may encourage you to click a link or open an attachment to get to the information, but instead they are used by hackers to deliver malware to your computer. They can then access and steal personal information or lock your computer and demand payment. Business owners should be particularly careful of this and instruct employees accordingly.
- Zoom-bombers—online hackers who invade your Zoom meeting and post hateful symbols. They can be stopped by having the proper Zoom security controls: don't use your Personal Meeting ID for your meeting; enable the "Waiting Room" feature; disable certain joining and screen-sharing options; and, once the meeting starts, lock the meeting to outsiders.
- Phone calls or emails asking for personal information in order to receive funds or pay money related to COVID. Common examples include being asked for personal or banking information to get your stimulus check or requests for credit card information for donations to fake charities or to pay for fake cures.
- Android app. Recently, hackers were pushing out an Android app that users could use to track coronavirus cases, but it was really a way to put malware into people's browsers.
Whether it relates to coronavirus or not, never click on links or open attachments in emails you do not recognize. If it seems like it’s from someone you know but the wording of the email seems suspicious, don't open it either. Look closely at the sender to make sure it matches the actual name of the organization and doesn't have typos or extra spaces indicating a fake. Also never provide personal or financial information in response to a stranger's request. Remember you can independently verify whether the person/organization is legitimate by looking up their phone number or website on your own. In addition, stick to reputable sources of information on coronavirus that you find yourself instead of from random emails.
If you have loved ones who are older, make sure to warn them as well. Unfortunately, seniors are frequent targets of scammers.
For more tips to help protect yourself, read Coronavirus stimulus scams are here. How to identify these new online and text attacks.