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Economic downturn is not the only side affect of Coronavirus. Spam and phishing scams are becoming more frequent and more elaborate after COVID-19 presents new content for cyber criminals.
Cyber criminals are using the fear and hysteria surrounding COVID-19 to trick people into falling for their spam or phishing schemes. A new level of sophistication is being brought to these scams as people fall for Coronavirus related ruses.
A phishing scam is when someone uses a fake email or online-message claiming to be from a reputable company in order to get the target to reveal personal information, like a credit card number. These e-mails could also include links or files that infect the user’s device when opened.
Before the pandemic occurred, the fraudulent e-mails sent out were not very sophisticated and contained many widely known red flags. Typically, the companies being impersonated were banks, credit card companies, or similar businesses that would have access to private information. With the madness brought about by the Coronavirus, people are more sensitive and anxious when it comes to their health. Businesses and individuals alike are going through an extremely stressful period. This is why scammers are now pretending to be from hospitals, testing centers, and more. According to an article in Forbes, a portion of the scams claim that they have a vaccine for the virus that they are willing to sell. They are also targeting hospitals and other health care related businesses, claiming they can supply N95 masks or fund those who can with a charitable donation. The criminals are also venturing out of the cyber universe and using physical letters or phone calls to retrieve personal information or money. Businesses being impersonated in the e-mails are often connected to the victim somehow; it could be a nearby hospital or where a friend works. This caliber social engineering is much more advanced than the original phishing scams and has been relatively successful in this tense time.
The easiest way to avoid being manipulated by these scams is to stay informed and observant. Do not click on anything that comes from a suspicious or unknown source. Even if the e-mail appears to be from someone you may know, inspect the message for any clues that is not them before clicking on any links or files. The article in Forbes suggested hovering over any links to reveal the actual destination before clicking. Warn your family or coworkers about these scams and do not act on anything that you would not usually receive before the pandemic. Odds are no hospital is going to contact you directly saying they have a cure for the Coronavirus. As always, do not give any personal information out through e-mails or phone calls. If you are not sure about a message, google the company and call their number from their website to check if what you received was authentic. Remain alert and cautious when opening mail, both electronic and physical.
Read this article in Forbes for more information.
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