The Coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it, almost overnight. Amidst unprecedented health and economic concerns, cybersecurity is likely the last thing on most people’s minds. Sadly, malicious attackers are capitalizing on the fear and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic to initiate new scams and cyber-attacks. At the same time, social distancing forces our society to become more reliant on the internet than ever before, creating an increase in cyber vulnerabilities.
As we all adjust to a new normal, it’s important to be extra vigilant against cyber crime. Here are 5 known COVID-19-related scams to be on the lookout for:
- Small Business Association Impersonation.
With so many businesses applying for loans and grants right now, scammers are taking advantage and impersonating SBA representatives in an attempt to gain access to personal and company data. The real SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or Disaster Loan Grants, and does not require any payment up front. If you receive an email from the SBA regarding your existing loan application status, cross reference your application number, and ensure that the sender’s email address ends with sba.gov. The presence of an SBA logo on a website or email does not guarantee that the information is endorsed by the SBA. When in doubt, contact the SBA directly either via telephone or by creating a new, separate email.
- Government Impersonation.
Another phishing scam being reported is fake emails and text messages from the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming that they need you to take an “online coronavirus test” by clicking a link they provide. No such test exists—scammers hope to gain access to your sensitive personal information by installing malware on your computer when you click their link.
- Fake Virus Test Kits, Vaccines and Cures.
The FCC has received reports of robocalls claiming to offer free virus test kits, targeting those in high-risk categories in particular. Other similar scams include text messages, calls or emails that claim to sell a COVID-19 vaccine or cure, or government-issued protective masks or other protective equipment. No known vaccine or cure currently exists—these scams aim to trick recipients into providing personal and health insurance information.
- Economic Impact Payment & Other Financial Offers.
Since the announcement of forthcoming stimulus payments to individuals, scammers have been contacting individuals claiming they can receive their economic impact check sooner by confirming their personal or banking information. This is scam—no one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details in order to "release" the funds of your economic impact payment. The FCC is also reporting robocall scams offering COVID-19 related work-from-home opportunities, student loan repayment plans, and debt consolidation offers.
- IT Phishing Scams.
With so many people working from home these days, scammers have targeted individuals with emails claiming to offer IT support, or stating that the employee’s company-issued computer has a virus. They may use scare tactics, stating the computer will crash if immediate action isn’t taken, all in an attempt to gain access to your computer remotely, or to your personal or company’s information.
These are just a few of the ways scammers are currently targeting individuals amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Never provide sensitive information via email or to a caller you are not expecting to hear from. If an email seems suspicious in any way, do not click any links, open any attachments, or reply directly to the email. If an offer sounds too good to be true (free test kits, vaccine, etc.), it probably is.
Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for the latest updates, alerts, and impacts, and please don't hesitate to contact us directly with any questions you may have. We're in this together.