Watch out for COVID-19 Scams
In times of crisis, bad actors tend to take advantage of the situation. Our current public health crisis is no exception.
Scammers are using the COVID-19 to try and take advantage of people through social media posts, fake or spoofed texts and emails (emails made to look like they are officially from a company when they are not). Scammers have gone so far as to set up websites selling fake products to try and trick you into giving them your personal or financial information. "Part of the reason Scammers can be successful in these attacks is that their behavior is so reprehensible during this time, most of us would not be suspect such nastiness," said Sean Murphy, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Security Officer at BECU.
Scam emails, texts, and social posts can be cleverly in disguise by promoting COVID-19 prevention tips or preying on the fear of COVID-19 cases in your neighborhood. These posts might also be asking for monetary donations or contain malicious attachments.
Here are some tips to look out for:
- Don't click on links from unknown sources, in emails or texts as these links could be a harmful virus. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the virus. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites for the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19.
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date with anti-virus and anti-malware. We have seen scammers use mobile apps or links to web sites that promise COVID-19 trackers and maps that are malicious. Stick with the known legitimate sources like the CDC and WHO.
- Ignore online ads for vaccinations, prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the COVID-19. If there is a COVID-19 breakthrough, it's unlikely you would first hear about it through online ads.
- Do research when it comes to donations to charities or crowdfunding sites. It is not recommended to send donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.
- Be wary of 'investment opportunities.' The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about social media posts claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19 and the stock value of these companies will see a significant increase as a result.
Be sure to contact BECU immediately if you suspect your information has been compromised or your identity is stolen. You can also report scammers to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you come across any suspicious claims related to COVID-19, report them to the FTC.
"Don't be bashful or ashamed if you are the victim of these crimes, the best thing you can do is avoid the scam. The second best thing is to report it immediately to minimize harm to you," Murphy said.