The unthinkable magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect in our society escalated from 0 to maximum rapidly. In addition, organized digital crimes have coped up from defrauding banking transactions and preying on people’s fear of COVID-19 through false donation drives.
Nowadays, people attending webinars for online school programs and remote-based employees are prone to fraudulent activities brought by these virtual scams.
Here are several methods on how scammers utilize the widespread panic and the always online behavior of those who maintain physical distancing due to COVID-19.
#1 Shopping Scams
Fraudsters are known to create fake online stores, social media profiles, and email addresses where they can pose as licensed sellers of highly-demanded medical supplies. After you wire the money to confirm the sale, they disappear and never provide you with any merchandise.
#2 Charity Scams
Donation drives for charity purposes are done by scammers as they pose themselves as an admin of a group that distributes cash assistance and relief goods. Be vigilant on the account number and names that they post on their sites and verify it with DSWD, DOH, or DILG before sending money to them — unless you personally know them.
#3 Treatment and Vaccine Scams
Cybercriminals advertise unlicensed vaccines or promote unproven medicine to be used for COVID-19 treatments.
#4 Medically-related Scams
Scammers can pretend as hospital officials or doctors who battle against the novel coronavirus, and pretend they previously cured a person’s relative / friend and ask for payment or donations.
#5 Malware Scams and Phishing
The COVID-19 pandemic placed the country in a state of a national health emergency. Fraudsters use hacking and phishing techniques to steal the personal details and credentials of any user to access their bank accounts and portable devices. They will ask people to download spyware or virus that is disguised in a software and trick them on giving their financial and personal details.
#6 Investment Scams
Cybercriminals are publicly offering promotions through their poser social media accounts for services or products related to businesses and investment companies who help the World Health Organization (WHO) or any local government unit in detecting, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19.
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You can take these steps to keep the COVID-19 scammers at bay after recognizing them at once.
How to avoid COVID-19 scams
1. Never fill out an online form on unsecured sites and give your financial or personal information.
2. Keep your device operating system updated and install highly-reviewed security software.
3. Use two-factor authentication for your mobile banking apps, online accounts, and social media profiles.
4. Never answer a call from an unnamed number, especially landline numbers and robot-automated calls, and press any keys on your device.
5. Never reply to emails from unidentified and suspicious senders.
6. Don’t click a link automatically sent by a friend on your social media accounts or download applications, software, or attachments that you receive from email. Check the domain of the sender and hover your mouse on the indicated link first to check its source.
7. Research the legitimacy of a charity drive and online seller by searching feedbacks on social media before you make a purchase or wire money.
8. Double-check any COVID-19 related news, update, or treatment from official health organizations such as the Department of Health and WHO.