Phishers(hackers) use social engineering to persuade or even manipulate users into handing over their most sensitive information by way of email or messaging. People have been dealing with these attempts for years now, but every time a large event happens the efforts by these phishers are increased to take advantage of the emotionally distraught and vulnerable.
The coronavirus and COVID19 are no exception. An increase of phishing attacks are on the rise, and these attempts revolve around using the virus and it’s disease to play on a victim’s emotions. The goal is always to get the user to give up their banking or credit card information, or infect their computer with a virus or malware.
An old scam that nets in thousands of dollars lost every year is the IRS agent:
This scam involves the person calling portraying themselves as an IRS agent. They are calling you to let you know that you are delinquent in taxes and unless you pay them right now…in gift cards(yes I know,but people fall for this quite often)you are going to be arrested by a sheriff that is already on the way in some cases.
With the coronavirus, people are instead portraying themselves as the UN’s health agency, the CDC, WHO or even local governments. This one runs the gambit as far as ways of contacting their victim; from emails, to phone calls, and even text messages.
Emails will use authentic logos and all the proper contact information but the donation button will take the user to a fake site used to steal the users information. The links may also got to malware and viruses that will steal information from your computer and monitor what you type, and again, ultimately stealing your credit card or banking information.
None of these organizations blindly spam people with donation requests, in fact you will never get anything from an organization unless you proactively went to their website and subscribed to a newsletter or any other information.
Social media reeks of misinformation, especially with the ongoing pandemic. From pseudoscience saying an essential oil is the “cure all”, to therapies or even investment advice for guaranteed winners. Don’t fall for any of it. Seek advice from professionals and experts in their fields, not a chain letter passing around Facebook.