The outpouring responses from those affected by COVID-19 has been both inspiring and heartwarming. Many companies are rising above these trying times by donating a sizable profits to causes in need. Others limited on resources are doing all they can to empower their customers, such as offering free shipping, inspiring their followers on social media, and participating in empathetic marketing campaigns.
But for every glimmer of hope during this recession, there’s a bad actor looming in the shadows. With more employees switching to remote operations, cybercriminals are capitalizing on clever schemes to acquire data or money— specifically, crafting sneaky phishing messages.
Be on the lookout for the two major ways hackers are tricking people during the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Phishing Emails
Over the last few weeks, nearly every American’s inbox was flooded with COVID-19 response emails from their favorite product or service providers. These compassionate messages addressed how the companies were handling the outbreak, including what you could expect from them in the future and tips for overcoming these difficult times together.
But not all these outreach emails have good-intent. Bad actors are dropping malicious emails into your inbox containing hidden malware or attempting to seize credentials to your personal accounts.
When opening a message with a COVID-19 subject line, be cautious of its contents. Hackers are manipulating people’s weaknesses right now, targeting those who have lost their jobs with money-related offerings. For instance, a malicious email may ask to send you a direct deposit in light of a new stimulus bill. They could mimic the look of a government site and ask you to enter your banking routing number to receive a direct deposit of your payout. Or, they could imitate a hospital, warning you that rooms are filling up fast and that it may be wise to pre-register in the event a loved one falls ill.
2. Voice Phishing (Vishing)
Not only are bad actors attacking your inbox, they’re also targeting your voicemail. Callers are leaving automated voice messages posing as trusted figures. You may receive a call from a spoofed number pretending to be your bank, telling you that due to difficult times, they are shutting down this branch and need to reroute your money. They’ll ask to confirm your account number and empty your savings.
Or, the cybercriminals may ask you to visit a link on your device to learn more about their company’s COVID response— which sends you a malicious URL. They could even send a malicious link to your cell phone in an unsuspecting SMS message.
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No matter what, think before you click on any links inside of a coronavirus-related message. Be just as cautious about sharing information over the phone and hang up if suspicious.
Share these COVID-19 scam tips with your friends, family, and coworkers— and be extra vigilant of bad threat actors in the weeks to come.
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