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Have you already received Coronavirus Scam emails in your inbox? With Coronavirus relief stimulus checks and other funds are being released by the government to the tune of $484 billion dollars it is no wonder why dark web bots and groups are attempting to get between taxpayers and their much needed funds. (Google has already spotted over 18 million coronavirus themed malware attacks that are email based – all within a single week!)

Thankfully most scams are poorly executed and can be easy to spot from a mile away; however, knowing some of the common threads that are often used by these dubious individuals can be a key way to keep your team abreast of potential hazards to both your business and their own checking accounts.

Coronavirus Scam #1: Fake Instructions from the White House

With CARES Act stimulus checks coming from the IRS in the amount of $1,200 per person (or $2,400 per married couple + $500 per child) citizens have been scrambling to figure out not only how much they should be receiving, but when their checks will arrive via direct deposit or by mail. 

It didn’t take long for email phishing experts to figure out that it would be easy to trick unsuspecting and desperate people into clicking on fraudulent links that they thought were from the government with vital information on much needed financial aid. 

Emails began being sent out that contained links to fake White House websites that exactly mirrored the real White House CORVID-19 informational pages to trick users into downloading malicious files that installed macros and malware directly onto their computers. 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Make sure that all website that you view that claim to be from the white house contain this address at the beginning: 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/

Coronavirus Scam #2: Employer Health Alerts

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Due to the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) laws you will never be notified of a employee’s medical status by a lab or other entity as this is private and privileged information.

Everyone is worried about a possible outbreak of Coronavirus in their workplace – and one way attackers are attempting to get a toehold into your office network is by sounding a false alarm regarding the health of your employees or loved ones. 

One such scam sends involves an email stating that the sender is ‘sharing a picture’ of the company’s infected staff member, per the staff member’s request. When the user opens the attached image; however, no image is actually displayed. Once opened the infected file instead runs a program that infects the recipient’s machine with malware which can spread to other computers on the network.

Coronavirus Scam #3: “US Emergency Grants Foundation”

Seniors are most commonly targeted by phishing emails, and as they are also the most commonly effected by CORVID-19, that also makes them prime targets for Coronavirus related Scams.

Malicious Facebook users have been found to be pretending to work for a company called the “U.S. Emergency Grants Foundation” which claims that it will supply funding to seniors to assist with medical bills once they input their Social Security Numbers into a form on the site.

Once this information was obtained by attackers, no time was wasted in stealing the victim’s identities and opening up new lines of credit such as bank accounts and credit cards. The effects of identity theft can be felt for years after the fact, and cause interruptions in these Seniors receiving benefits and aid that they desperately need at this time. 

Note: If you have a senior in your life, make sure you let them know about these types of scams so that they can protect themselves, or make yourself available to answer any questions they might have about emails they are receiving.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Always be wary of information posted on social media.

Check sources for benefits packages through official channels (such as government aid websites) or calling local government entities to check if programs are legitimate before giving information.

Coronavirus Scams: Key Rules to Protect Yourself

Regardless of the costumes these bad actors attempt to don in order to falsely gather your information or access to your computer, keeping these hackers at bay can be as easy as 1 2 3…

1.) Do not open emails from senders you do not know, or were not expecting an email from.

Generally speaking, there is no reason to even open an email from someone you don’t trust anyway. Unless it is a marketing email that you actually signed up for, avoid clicking on or looking at emails from someone you don’t know. 

Also, if you receive an email with an attachment – be it a .zip file or a .jpg – check that the email you received is actually from the person who you think sent before opening it. You can also always call the sender to double check that the file is safe to open. 

It is also best practice to scan any email attachments with your computer’s antivirus program to make sure there is no malicious code lurking in the file itself.

If you do not have antivirus protection or do not know how to scan a file on your computer, you can call our team and we will be happy to help you!

2.) When clicking links, always check the address bar to make sure that the site you are being directed to is legitimate.

Making sure that websites are using the correct spelling in their URL is a great way to catch phishing email scammers in the act. Common methods of tricking users involve changing one or two letters in a url in the hope that an unsuspecting user won’t notice the change.

For example: https://www.whitehouse.gov would be displayed with a .com at the end or use a similar url such as whiitehouse.gov instead.

3.) Never give out personal identifiying information over the internet unless instructed to do so by an entity you know an trust. 

Sometimes requests for potentially sensitive information over the internet can be legitimate; however, you can always look up the department or group that is requesting the information online and call them directly to verify that they are actually requesting this information, AND have them verify that you are on the correct page/form/url before you enter any information into a webpage. 

Legitimate companies will have help or customer service lines that will be more than happy to help you and keep your information safe and secure.