We’re more vulnerable when we’re in a heightened emotional state. That’s why financial scams are more prevalent during times like these. Here’s how to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams.
Where financial scams begin
The scams we see in the financial industry almost always begin by someone hacking your email. The criminal guesses your password, watches your inbox while gathering intel and then…
A friend’s request
Yo buddy, I’ve got some bad news. Alice is in the ICU. She got COVID-19, but her health insurance sucks and she’s going to end up paying ridiculous medical bills. So I’m taking up a collection from the crew to help her out a bit.
If you want to chip in too, just venmo/paypal me at email@example.com .
By watching your inbox, the criminal knows Mike Smith is part of your crew and so is Alice is too. He also learned that Alice works for a non-profit, so her insurance probably isn’t great and neither is her salary.
In the flurry of your day-to-day, you check your mental boxes. Everything adds up, so you hand over your money .
What you didn’t notice is that mike’s email’s been changed. You didn’t get it from your friend’s email – michaelalansmith@gmail. You got it from the criminal’s email address – firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knew?
A charity’s request
You signed up for the CDC newsletter to stay informed. Next thing you know, you get an email from the CDC asking you to donate at www.cdc.give.gov.
You click on the website. It looks legit. So you hand over your credit card info and give a little money. What you didn’t know is the donation site for the CDC is actually www.give.cdcfoundation.org.
The link in the email is a fake donation page set up by a cyber-criminal. Now your info and account information is available for him or the highest bidder on the dark web).
How to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams
1. Use a password manager
Hackers hack by guessing your password which for most people is comprised of easy-to-find personal information like birthdates and kid’s names.
A password manager like TrueKey or LastPass will generate a random combination of numbers, letter and symbols for your password and then store it for you. Then you only have to remember one password (to get into the password manager.
2. Use multi-level authentication
Almost all sites offer this added layer of security by texting you a code to enter. Many of them offer this as an opt-in feature. Make sure to turn it on.
Triple-verify the source if someone asks you for money or personal info. Text Mike. Google “CDC donations”.
Assume if it’s an unsolicited email that it’s nefarious.
Protect yourself from COVID-19 scams
COVID-19 is an opportunity for cyber-criminals, but they are in full swing even when there isn’t a global pandemic. So make these cybersecurity tips a habit to protect yourself from financial scams.