Coronavirus Scams - What to Look For, and How to Protect Yourself
Rick Haney, ERM Officer, Vice President
As expected, cyber-criminals have been actively expanding their repertoire of scams to take advantage of coronavirus disruptions. These scams play off of people’s anxiety and fear and target anyone and everyone with identity theft and fraud schemes and may include malware device and system attacks. The more people they reach, the better. Some of the most recent scams are centered on the proposed USA stimulus checks, COVID-19 vaccines/cures and tech support.
Before discussing each type of scam, I want to point out a few key facts:
A program to distribute stimulus checks is in process. Be alert for individuals trying to obtain your financial information in order to receive your payment, or check your eligibility.
There is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19, and one is not likely within the year.
- Tech support for your systems and devices should only come from your IT group.
These schemes began as soon as Congress discussed distributing $1,000-$1,200 stimulus checks to working adults to offset the impact of business shutdowns and other social distancing tactics. They come in the form of texts, emails and phone calls. The message may state the government is missing your contact and account information to receive your stimulus check, or it may offer an advance on the proposed stimulus check, within hours or days, for an upfront fee. Either way, what they really want is your account number and personal, confidential information to withdraw money from your account and commit identity theft. The texts and emails may also include links to download malware onto your computer/device.
Vaccine/Cure for COVID-19
These scams offer to reserve a vaccination over the phone or by email/text. Just provide your credit card or account information plus your SSN and you will be one of the first to receive it! You will receive something. Unfortunately it will be a lighter pocket and weeks/months of trying to recover from identity theft. They may claim to be from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), WHO (World Health Organization) or other government departments.
Scammers know that many employees are now working remotely from home. They try to obtain access to company systems by using social engineering techniques to impersonate technology support. Methods include phone calls, pop-up boxes when on the internet or even attempting to gain access to locked lobbies/offices of businesses closed to the general public. If you receive any contact from supposed tech support, and it is not from someone in your IT group, or if you question whether it is truly from a member of your IT group, it is a good idea to end the call and contact your IT group directly to confirm they were trying to reach you.
Please educate yourself, your family and your friends about these warning signs to try and stay protected from financial harm.