Remaining Vigilant: A look at a few phishing scams present during the COVID-19 pandemic

Phishing scams are experiencing an uptick in popularity as many businesses move quickly into a work from home model. Phishing can sabotage a user’s personal information and lead to multiple problems in safeguarding confidential information. With these scams on the rise as more people turn to the internet for business purposes as well as personal ones like online banking, shopping, and other financial transactions, hackers are taking advantage and trying to catch these consumers as they enter information. A common phishing tactic is to pose as a legitimate company and lure visitors to a website; the user is asked to enter their login information but does not realize they are sending this information to a third party instead. 

A phishing attack can have dangerous consequences, but luckily there are many ways to avoid them. The key is to know what to look for, especially common phishing attempts in the era of COVID-19. Here are just a few ways to protect yourself.  

How to Spot a Phishing Attempt 

Phishers generally request immediate action, adding a sense of urgency to each and every message. Knowing how to identify these messages will help reduce or eliminate your risk as a phishing target. The first step is to always double-check the source of any e-mails. If you need to call the company or financial institution to verify the source, then take the steps to do so. It’s important that you never share account information over the internet unless you are 100% sure the site is secure and it is for a legitimate purpose. It’s a good idea to check your bank accounts on a regular basis and learn about any fraudulent behavior.  

Common COVID-19 Scams 

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the United States, phone and email scammers have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers. The FCC has received reports of scam and hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears. Some scams are even impersonating government agencies. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a message that sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.  

Beware of Bulk Emails or Robo Calls 

Many phishing attacks take place through bulk e-mail requests, and these may or may not end up in your spam folder. Although many large financial institutions send out bulk e-mails, it’s important to whitelist as many of these companies as much as is possible. This can help you sort through the legitimate correspondence and any fraudulent ones, reducing your risk overall. Be sure never to fill out and send back personal information through e-mail, unless it has been verified or requested by a real person. These are ideal ways for phishers to find victims, especially when you are asked to enter personal financial information. 

Watch What You Click 

It’s important to be vigilant about e-mail links. This is the primary tactic used by many phishing scams to redirect you to another page. A link out of any e-mail may take you to an insecure site or network, and it’s likely that these sites are also monitored or being recorded. If you are not well-protected with the appropriate security software, you are increasing your risk even further by visiting these potentially threatening sites. Make sure you are using secure website software to monitor web browser activity as often as possible. 

For more tips on keeping your data secure, connect with the data management experts at Happy Faces Records Management.  


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