Phishing Scams

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, unfortunately so do the scams fraudsters are using to prey on consumers’ fears. The Federal Trade Commission has already identified Coronavirus related Phishing scams and fake websites designed to load malware to your computer and steal your personal information.

These scams are not necessarily financial in nature. They don’t always ask for money or personal information. Sometimes you just have to click on a map of the Coronavirus and your device gets infected.

The information provided on this page is provided to inform you so you can protect your devices and personal information.

 

Known Scams

Fake e-mails that appear to come from the CDC or WHO to steal money or personal information. These e-mails either contain links or attachments. If clicked on or opened, they will infect your computer with malware and risk the safety of your personal information. DO NOT open links or attachments in e-mails that appear to come from these organizations. See more information on the WHO website.

Fake Coronavirus interactive maps are infecting user devices with credential-stealing malware. Links to these maps are being spread through phishing e-mails and social media. Some are promising free iPhones. Don’t fall for it. Johns Hopkins University’s interactive map was recently exploited, so even reputable websites are susceptible.

Many Coronavirus-based domain names have been registered that could be used to infect users with malware. Beware of domains such as:

  • coronavirus-map[.]com
  • coronavirus[.]app
  • vaccine-coronavirus[.]com.

There’s a scam that attempts to play on your emotions by asking you to help fund the vaccine for children in China. There is no vaccine available and one is not expected to be available until next year.

Prevention Tips

  • Don’t click on link or attachments in e-mails unless you know they are from a reliable source. Your friend on Facebook or the neighbor down the street should not be considered a reliable source. Just because a friend or family member forwards an e-mail doesn’t make it reliable.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Never give someone your personal information (account/credit card numbers, social security number, etc.) over the phone unless you made the phone call and you have verified that who you are calling is legitimate.
  • Look carefully at the URL addresses for the websites you are on. Recently a scammer posed as the Wall Street Journal website. It looked identical except for the address was “world” street journal.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations. Charitynavigator.org is a reliable site to search for legitimate charities if you want to donate money.
  • Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it
  • As the federal government makes plans to possibly send out checks to help Americans, know these three things:
  • The government won’t ask you to pay fees and charges upfront to get this money
  • The government will never call to ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers.
  • These checks are not a reality yet. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they can get you the money now.
  • Don’t click on interactive maps online

 

Prevention Resources

USA.gov

Federal Trade Commission

10 Things You Can do to Avoid Fraud

Fraud.org