Online Scam Awareness: Staying Safer in Uncertain Times
As we adjust to a changed world, bad actors are also changing the tactics they use to take advantage of people. You may have already encountered schemes that leverage fear and anxiety to make you click, buy, or respond to malicious communications. Fortunately, a little awareness is all it takes to recognize the scams below and protect yourself and your family.
Our new normal means that many face-to-face transactions have moved to email. We are now relying on email for daily communications from schools, updates from our local businesses and so much more. Armed with this knowledge, online scammers are creating emails capitalizing on sensitive and relevant topics to lure you to hand over personal information.
A very topical scam today takes the form of a phony message from the government, or the IRS, asking you to submit personal information or file a tax form to receive a government stimulus check which can lead to identity theft. The government does not send email communications.
Another popular scam plays on a sensitive topic today, our health. Examples of this include emails masked as coming from a reputable health organization, such as the CDC, asking you to “click on a link to see health news in your area”. The link could download dangerous malware to your device.
Working From Home
While many of us are working from home now, we are seeing fraudsters take advantage of this through efforts like the “CEO Scam” where they spoof the email address of someone in your workplace with a position of power. Emails from this spoofed account typically include work-from-home policies or safety precautions and ask you to download an attached policy sheet, which may contain malware.
We are all relying on home deliveries more than ever now. Recent scams send a warning that your order or account is on “hold” until you verify some details, or that you need to click on an attachment to see the delivery time. Often they will spoof popular e-commerce sites, like FedEx or Amazon and deliver malware straight to your inbox.
Social media scams
Be wary of social media platforms. Scammers are using these outlets to advertise phony cures, medical equipment in bulk, and other schemes not unlike the ones used in the phishing emails above.
Fake E-Commerce sites
Hundreds of new e-commerce sites have been popping up offering everything from hard-to-find products, medical equipment, and more Some are legitimate middlemen hoping to turn a quick profit, but others are fake websites looking to collect your personal and financial information.
Protect yourself with these 5 tips
- Learn to spot suspicious emails: Check the email address by hovering over it with your mouse. Does the extension on the address match the company the email represents? Other red flags to look for are typos, grammatical errors and the use of generic greetings such as “Dear Sir”.
- If you get what appears to be a suspicious request from someone at work, a friend, or family member, verify the message with that person directly before opening or responding.
- If you are looking for health or financial information online, stick to reputable sources such as state and government websites and the CDC. Never respond to unsolicited emails or click on included links.
- When shopping or browsing online, go directly to reputable websites, instead of clicking on questionable ads, links or emails.
- Ensure that you continue to update your security solutions across all devices. This will help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats, as well as help identify malicious websites when browsing.