Published: May 4, 2020 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
According to a public service announcement recently posted by the FBI, the number of scams and scammers using the coronavirus as a platform for theft are growing like never before. The public’s need for information, online purchases, and charitable donations are being exploited at historic levels. The FBI warns that online fraud and identity theft are rampant during this pandemic, and cybercriminals are doing their best to take advantage of those in need. As the range of online criminal behavior is expanding, the FBI wants the public to be aware of some of the worst and most prolific scams that cybercriminals currently have to offer.
Payment Protection Program (PPP) phishing emails are flodding the market. These emails are being broadcasted out to everyone and not targeting the business contact that applied for the load. Why? Why not. These emails are very convincing and the topic is in the news, so why not see if you can get anyone to to click.
Fake CDC emails and apps claiming to be from the CDC and other respected information sources offering coronavirus news and tracking are rampant. The FBI warns that following email links, opening attachments, and sideloading apps (apps downloaded from a third-party and not from the official app stores) can also lead to identity theft and malware.
Phishing emails saying you need to verify your personal information, even if it dangles a financial stimulus payout from the government, should be deleted and not acted upon. No matter how tempting the reward promised, know that government agencies (like the IRS) never send unsolicited emails asking for private information. Ever. The FBI also warns about phishing email topics such as financial relief, fake cures, vaccines, testing kits, and airline refunds should not be responded to. Fake GoFundMe pages and other social media charitable contribution sites can also be rife with fraud.
Counterfeit PPE equipment and coronavirus treatments are being exploited. The surging need for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is prompting a ton of fake claims. The sale of unapproved and counterfeit masks, goggles, gowns, gloves, sanitizing products, virus cures, and more are being pushed online. A massive spike in shipping and other cyber-fraud means you may pay for products and shipping, but never receive them. Meanwhile, a bad actor may have your payment card information, address, and possibly enough personal details for identity fraud.
Overall, the FBI’s message during this time is to be extra vigilant and cyber-smart. Hackers know how vulnerable the world is to coronavirus fears, and everything and anything involved with the pandemic can be exploited. The FBI’s “ic3.gov” website is full of helpful information and trusted sources for PPE, including where to report scammers so others can avoid them. They welcome all concerned to visit the site frequently as it’s continually being updated with legitimate coronavirus-related information and resources.
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