Keeping your data secure during the Covid-19 pandemic
What criminals are doing to capitalize on it
In 2020, the world went on quarantine and shut-down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people are out of work or on furlough, with no way to take care of their families. In comes the government to offer up a $1200 stimulus to help boost the economy. Criminals are watching. They are opportunists and they have come up with a variety of ways, some old, some new, to take your information and profit off of it.
Here are some reminders to take note when online or reading through your email.
Don’t click on unfamiliar links in emails or messages: This is an old tactic that has been used for years however, it’s still being used because it’s still effective. You get a seemingly familiar email from your bank or other card company letting you know they have important information for you. All you need to do is click on the link in the email. DON’T DO IT! The best way and recommended way to handle communications like this is simply go to the website of your bank or credit card company directly and log in. Criminals will disguise phishing tactics within emails. Some things you might note when you get an email like this that could be a giveaway:
- Bad grammar and poor spelling – This is a big red flag. We’ve seen a lot of these emails and usually they are riddled with poor grammar, improper punctuation and poor spelling. Even the greeting is something like “Hello Dear” or something generic.
- Links are disguised – If you see a link in an email, hover over it. You may find that it’s not a link to Chase.com although it shows that it is. That link will likely have a random URL listed in it. By clicking on it, it can take you to a perfectly replicated site that looks like your bank. Once they get your ID and password, they are able to access your real accounts at your bank.
- There’s a problem with your account – This is usually a line these criminals will use. They play on the fear that something is wrong. Again, log into your account directly instead of clicking on links if you feel like there might be a real issue with your account.
Don’t give out your personal information like social or birthday through email and phone: This is another old tactic that is still being used. The IRS or any other government entity including your bank, will not email you and ask you to provide those things via email or phone. In light of the stimulus check, there are scams generating now that will “help you get” your stimulus check if you haven’t seen it. The federal government does not offer any kind of service so do not provide personal information by email, text or phone. If you have questions about your stimulus check or anything related to that, you can find information by visiting the IRS website https://irs.gov/coronavirus.
Fake stimulus check over $1200: This is a new tactic being used. Scammers are mailing out checks to unsuspecting people showing more than the $1200 stimulus check value. They then notify the person they’ve mailed the check out to and tell them that they were over-payed by the IRS and that they need to send back the overage to them. The overage request is in cash or money order form or gift card. As a reminder, the government or your bank will never ask you to mail them back an overage and it won’t most certainly be done via a gift card.
The Federal Trade Commission talks about the stimulus check scams in detail on their website and what you can do should you fall victim or receive one of these emails. You can get more information on their website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/coronavirus-stimulus-payment-scams-what-you-need-know