Scammers are notorious for capitalizing on fear and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception. Scammers set up fake websites, bogus funding collections and more in an effort to trick unsuspecting people out of their hard-earned money.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a warning on its website against email scams connected to the coronavirus. The agency claims it has received reports from around the world about phishing attempts mentioning coronavirus on an almost daily basis. Closer to home, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning against a surge in coronavirus scams, which are being executed with surprising sophistication, so they may be difficult for even the keenest of eyes to spot.
Your best defense against any kind of fraud is awareness and education. When you know about circulating scams and how to identify them, you’re already several steps ahead.
Coronavirus-related scams to watch out for:
Phony Purchase Order
Scammers are hacking hospital computer systems to obtain information about outstanding orders for face masks and other supplies. The scammers then send the buyer a phony purchase order listing the requested supplies and asking for payment. The employee wires payment directly into the scammer’s account. Unfortunately, they’ll have to pay the bill again when contacted by the legitimate supplier.
Fake Funding Scam
In this scam, victims receive bogus emails, text messages or social media posts asking them to donate money to research that is supposedly on the verge of developing a drug to treat COVID-19. Others claim they are nearing a vaccine for immunizing the population against the virus. There have also been ads circulating on the internet with similar requests. Unfortunately, nearly all of these are fakes, and any money donated to these “funds” will help line the scammers’ pockets.
Bogus Health Agency
Scammers are sending out alerts appearing to be from the CDC or the WHO. These emails sport the logo of the agencies that allegedly sent them, and the URL is similar to those of the agencies as well. Victims who don’t know better will believe these are sent by legitimate agencies. These emails and posts spread misinformation and often infect the victims’ computers with malware, which is then used to steal personal information.
Here are some preventative measures to keep scammers from making you their next target:
- Protect your personal information with comprehensive credit monitoring.
- Keep anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer up to date.
- Never download an attachment from an unknown source or click links embedded in an email or social media post from an unknown individual.
- Practice responsible online browsing and don’t share sensitive information online.
- Visit trusted sites, such as the CDC and WHO, to stay updated on the latest news about the coronavirus to avoid falling prey to misinformation.
If you receive a suspicious email, think you have been a victim of a scam, or if you want to learn more about EZShield Identity Protection, contact us online, call or text 315.782.0155, connect with us through Video Banking, or stop into any relationship center.