With our collective focus turned toward concerns around the globe and in the US, unfortunately malicious actors are already taking advantage of the situation. To help you stay safe, the AaDya team has compiled a list of things to watch out for and some simple steps you can take to ensure your business and personal data are protected.
There have been hundreds of reports of computer users falling victim to scams ranging from purchasing counterfeit goods to malicious file downloads in phishing emails. These reports have scams reaching a skyrocketing $1.3M in February alone in the United Kingdom.
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, we have seen the start of customers and family members receiving these same phishing emails and scam calls. To protect yourself and your business be aware of the scams listed below:
Spoofing (pretending to be) government or health care organizations: These scammers will be asking for donations, offering links to educate on prevention, or allow you to view a map showing the spread of the virus across the world.
Fake websites: These websites tend to offer cures, vaccines, testing kits, and supplies at very low cost.
Commerce Scams: Sellers with low ethical standards will take advantage of widely used selling platforms like Amazon or Newegg to sell tainted or counterfeit products.
Social media: Social media has blown up with fake fundraising scams since the announcement of COVID-19 as well as fake investment scams.
Now that we’ve covered the most common scams, we need to understand how to combat them. Listed below are some steps to take if you think you may have received a phishing email or scam call:
- Reputable agencies such as the CDC or WHO will not email you personally, if you receive an email from someone claiming to be from these or other known government or non-governmental agencies please delete it immediately. If you would like to view a map showing the spread of the virus, you may view one here from Our World Data that will educate you on multiple fronts on the spread of the virus as well as severity, progression, and symptoms.
- Be cautious around any COVID-19 themed emails. If you want to find reputable material to read you may do so here at the CDC COVID-19 summary.
- To avoid commerce scams we can take a few steps while making online purchases: ensure the website address begins with HTTPS instead of HTTP. To do this look in the address bar of the webpage and ensure there is a lock symbol, this means the website is secure and HTTPS. You also need to look for spelling errors in the website domain. For example, “Amazon” and “Arnazon” look the same at first glance. This practice could lead you to a site that may look similar but is set up for scamming. Lastly, verify merchant reviews whether on Ebay or Amazon to ensure others have not been scammed out of any product and that the seller will ship your purchased items.
- If you receive unsolicited email invitations, or messages from unknown senders on social media claiming to be from a fundraising organization, or an individual raising funds, ignore, block and delete the invitation or message. If you would like to donate, you can find a list of reputable organizations on websites like Charity Navigator.
- We also urge you to be aware of vishing scams, vishing simply put, is phishing over the phone. Be aware of calls from unknown numbers claiming to be the CDC or any type of agency asking for personal information or donations. In order to combat these, we urge you to not answer phone calls from unknown numbers, let the caller leave a voicemail. If you do happen to answer the phone, ask the representative for a good call back number. You can then hang up the phone and google the organizations phone number to compare the two.
We strive to inform our customers and the public of new and emerging threats online to provide cybersecurity awareness for all. While we combat this pandemic in our communities, the AaDya team will continue to inform and educate you on the newest emerging threats and trends that arise from this situation.