The Coronavirus pandemic is presenting malicious individuals with many opportunities to prey on businesses, their staff, and the public. The need to self-distance ourselves from each other, continue working, and care for our families is a lot right now – and that makes it easier to fall victim to scams.
Many of the scams we’re observing, and seeing reported by security organizations, rely on emails and text messages. It’s important to double-check all communications you receive, no more than ever, and ensure that you know who you’re speaking with before you provide information to anyone.
COVID-19 phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are on the rise; from emails posing as accounts receivable departments to charitable organizations seeking funding, many attempts are being made to cause individuals to hand over their personal information and money.
We’re also observing a large increase in the number of phone-based scams. If you receive a call from someone pressuring you to provide any information, hang up. If they claim to be calling from a company or organization you’re affiliated with, hang up and call their main number to ensure that you’re not speaking with an impostor.
COVID-19 map malware
Many digital threats are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to find new ways to spread to individuals trying to keep up-to-date with its progress.
Be on the lookout for any links texted to your phone, particularly if you are an Android user, providing access to an app to track Coronavirus. Downloading the application will allow malicious individuals to access your phone’s camera and microphone, and access other information.
If you want to track the status of COVID-19, don’t risk downloading an app that may contain malware – and this includes apps from app stores for now as well. Head over to Bing’s Coronavirus tracker by Microsoft as a safe source for updates.
COVID-19 vaccine and preventative product scams
There are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus, but that’s not stopping scams surrounding treatments extend from the Internet into the real world as companies market products they claim can treat or prevent the Coronavirus.
New scam: People are claiming to be from the CDC offering to let people “reserve a vaccine for the COVID-19” with a credit card and/or social security number. There is no vaccine reserve program, and the CDC is not offering anything of the sort. Do not fall prey!— Daly City Police (@DalyCityPD) March 17, 2020
The Federal Trade Commission, along with the Food and Drug Administration, have jointly issued warning letters to sellers of unapproved and misbranded products claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims – as required by law.
What the FTC is doing
Outside of the warnings sent to companies, the FTC has created a page filled with resources related to COVID-19 including tips to avoid scams, links to other government agencies and information, and ways for you to spread awareness of what they’ve compiled for the public:
If you think that you’ve fallen victim to a scam, or want to report a complaint related to any suspicious claims, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Valiant’s COVID-19 Center
Our team is working hard to navigate the current situation for our clients and make plans to continue and adjust as things change.
We’ve launched a Remote Work Resource Center that is filled with resources we’ve created, knowledgebase articles to help improve the remote work experience, blog posts, and links to small business and government-related resources.
All information that we come across that is useful will be posted to the page, so be sure to check back often.