Connect with us

Security

How to avoid scams based on coronavirus fears

It may be hard to keep your head in a crisis, but remember that, before you do anything anyone asks of you, you should take a deep breath and think about whether it truly makes sense. 

new-chinese-phone-scam
Image: Unsplash

If you’re feeling afraid right now, you’re definitely not alone. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is scary in many ways and you’re likely concerned about your health, your finances, and the safety of your loved ones, just to name a few. Unfortunately, scammers use that very fear as a tool to get what they want: your personal information, your money, or both.

While many development companies, like BairesDev, act with integrity, others may create platforms and applications out of malicious intent. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between those fake websites and phone apps, designed to collect your personal information and the real things. Scammers will use these means, as well as phone calls, emails, and ads, to try to get you to act. 

Don’t fall for it! Use the tips below to protect your online life as carefully as your physical health.

Get Informed 

One of the best things you can do to avoid getting scammed is to know the facts. For example, scammers will try to get you to send them money for a coronavirus cure, yet there is no cure yet. Read as much as you can about what’s really going on, with two caveats:

 

  • Be sure you’re accessing legitimate sources of information.
  • Be careful about reading so much about the pandemic that it negatively affects your mental health.

 

Here are a few good sites to visit to get accurate information:

Protect Your Personal Information

When you give out your personal information, you’re essentially handing scammers the keys to your identity and your bank accounts. Whether you’re on a website, on a phone call, or responding to an email, always protect your personal information, including things like your birth date, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, and financial information such as bank account and credit card numbers. 

There may be situations in which providing this information is appropriate, but that will rarely be when someone contacts you out of the blue to make an offer. If you’re communicating with an individual or group that claims to be a company or organization you do business with, disengage and contact the entity using a phone number or website you know to be legitimate. 

Practice Good Online Hygiene

While scammers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, you still have a high level of control over whether they’re able to trick you. When you follow good online hygiene, such as the tips below, you make it impossible for them to complete their nefarious tasks.

  • Never open an emailed attachment unless you’re expecting it and you trust the sender.
  • Never click an emailed link unless you trust the sender and know where the link will take you. 
  • Even when you think you know the sender of an email, double-check the sending address to be sure it matches the address you know.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date.
  • Only download apps for your phone from reliable sources such as the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Check out the reviews and developer information to make sure each app is genuine.

Learn to Spot the Fakes

Scammers are adept at making you think they’re a company or organization you should trust. But there are often telltale signs that let you know they’re not for real: 

  • Emails may have numerous spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Scammers may use slightly off names, email addresses, or URLs. For example, someone has been sending emails supposedly from the World Health Organization with email addresses from the domain @who.org rather than the real domain, @who.int.  
  • Websites may use “http” at the beginning of a URL, rather than the more secure “https.” 
  • Someone may ask you to send payments urgently or using unusual methods, such as money orders. 
  • An email may target something very specific to you, such as a chronic illness that you have, indicating the scammer has gotten a hold of your personal information. 
  • Something about the email or other communication just seems “off.” 

Use Common Sense

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, such as “safe” investments you can make even as the economy is in a downturn. For example, some people have received email pitches that highlight how the current crisis may negatively affect their retirement savings and offer magical investment opportunities that promise values will only go up. 

You may also get offers that push you into responding by a certain deadline. But, think about it. What legitimate companies or organizations do you know that do this? They don’t and that’s because it’s only a pressure tactic designed to trick you into acting based on a sense of panic. 

In Summary

It may be hard to keep your head in a crisis, but remember that, before you do anything anyone asks of you, you should take a deep breath and think about whether it truly makes sense. 

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Comments

More in Security