The FBI has warned that scammers are using email scams to capitalize on the coronavirus scare, including messages purporting to be from national authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation warns in a notice posted by its cybersecurity division, the IC3.
“Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus,” according to the agency.
That includes donating to a charity, contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, purchasing products online, or giving away personal information to receive money or other benefits.
Scammers are increasingly posing as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus, the FBI warns. Fraudsters are lacing links inside the message with malware designed to steal personal information or lock your computer and demand payment (ransomware).
Internet users should be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide, for example, as cybercrooks are using this method to deliver malware.
If you receive any email asking you to verify your personal information to receive an economic stimulus check from the government, steer clear, it’s a phishing scam.
“While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money,” the FBI elaborates.
Other examples of phishing emails making the rounds include messages related to charitable contributions, general financial relief, airline carrier refunds, fake cures and vaccines, and fake COVID-19 testing kits.
Last, but not least, the public needs to be cautious of anyone selling products with claims to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure the raging coronavirus.
“Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves,” the Bureau warns.
The notice includes instructions on how to spot scams and how to contact the real government agencies in charge of helping the public in times like these.