Monday, February 22, 2021

What’s Happening with COVID-19 Scams

 During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been quite a few different types of scams. At first, most of the scams centered around economic relief money that was doled out to people to help prop up the fledgling economy. More recently however, scammers have focused on vaccines. Today, we will take a closer look at some of these scams, as they are growing in sophistication. 

Opportunists and COVID-19

Everytime something terrible happens, hackers are there to try and take advantage of the desperation people have. It is one of the saddest, most sickening truths that takes place in our digital society. As the pandemic stretches on, more and more scams have been reported that cover all types of parts of people’s lives. They include:

  • Phishing - Phishing scams were here long before COVID-19 and will be here long after it isn’t a threat any longer. Essentially, scammers use emails that are disguised as being from a reputable and legitimate source (like the IRS or the CDC) to get people to take actions they wouldn’t normally take. Typically these messages come from what appears to be a financial institution, but they can literally come from anywhere. 
  • Vishing - Vishing is phishing, but over the telephone. It’s the same strategy, but because the call seems like it is coming from a legitimate source, people will impulsively act. This can have dire consequences. 
  • Smishing - Again, same concept, but this time the message is written via text message. Since people don’t think about the fact that people could be trying to fool them into giving over sensitive financial and personal information through text, they immediately act, leaving them scammed. 
  • Pretexting - This is a less well-known scam, but it has been used a lot over the past year. Basically, someone will contact you directly claiming to be someone they aren’t. They typically claim to be from a government office, a financial institution, or a healthcare organization and ask for personal information to verify your identity.
  • Spoofing - Spoofing can come from any medium, but in the COVID-19 era, we’ve seen a lot of spoofed social media profiles. The scammer will set up a profile with the name of a person you know, they will contact you out of the blue, but since you presumably know this person already, you will help them hack yourself. Spoofing can also be from email addresses, instant messaging accounts, and phone numbers. 
  • Quid Pro Quo - This type of scam has been played up with so many people looking for any way to make ends meet. The scammer will promise the victim something in exchange for information. It may start out as a seemingly legitimate relationship, but after trust has been maintained, the victim is taken for data, money, or worse. 

What Can You Do?

Well, that’s not a simple answer, but there are plenty of things you should be doing to keep your private information out of other people’s hands. Firstly, you will always want to verify the identity of anyone that asks you for anything online. This means anyone. It can be your boss, your partner, your parents, anyone. These days scammers will do anything to get a hold of a little piece of you to take a lot from you. Verify, verify, verify.

Everyone that has an online life should understand the potential pitfalls that are out there. This perspective, along with adhering to best practices can go a long way toward keeping your personal information out of the hands of scammers.

If you would like some help coming up with a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for your company that includes thorough training and testing, call the IT professionals at Net It On today at (732) 360-2999.