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Coronavirus Scams Are Making Headlines

March 18, 2020

Cybercriminals are the latest in a line to cash in on Coronavirus themed scams. Scammers are currently targeting people in the most affected countries, purporting to be from WHO (World Health Organisation) or other such medical bodies.

They are sending emails containing ‘useful tips’ that can help prevent the virus or halt the spread of it. Within these emails are suspicious links and files designed to deliver viruses onto your computer or device.

Others are creating websites in an attempt to sell sham products to the unsuspecting, and obviously very worried, public. One such victim alleged to have spent £15,000 on face masks only to never receive them.

By using fake email addresses and false social media posts, they are able to get people to hand over personal information such as names, addresses, email addresses, credit card numbers and passwords. If you are one of the many that uses the same email address and password for most things, they have access to it all.

There have been reports of email scams telling people that the HMRC was giving out tax refunds to help people deal with the cost of coronavirus. All you needed to do was click on the link and enter your personal information and financial details.

These criminals will also set up links asking for donations to what looks like a worthy cause and a genuine website. By clicking on a link, they then gather your card details, which are very easily sold on the dark web. You won’t know until there is suspicious activity on your card. (Or if you have a Notty Account which does dark web searches for you and sends alerts!)

Chief Inspector Paul Carroll of the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) said: “It’s important to take your time when making a purchase online and not to rush.

He added, “When you’re online shopping, do your research. Read up on the website you are thinking of buying from especially if it’s not well-known, look for reviews of the site, and most importantly chat to your friends and family and get their opinion before completing the purchase.

“If you decide to go ahead, use a credit card if possible, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.”

Some WhatsApp users have reported receiving a message informing them that the virus can be cured by use a mix of boiling water and garlic. The message also says “an old Chinese doctor” has proven the effectiveness with patients supporting the statement, yet as yet there is no known cure for Covid-19. WhatsApp recommends you delete these messages and do not forward them as they could contain malware which will spread to your contacts.

Also, there is a Coronavirus map app. No intention of providing useful info, but merely designed to capture names, passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive data.

There has been an app developed that tells you where Coronavirus is on a map, which actually scams users out of their details. It has been designed purely to capture names, addresses, passwords etc, and has no intention of providing information that is useful (to the user at least!).

So, what do we do if we are unsure?

·        Don’t click on an email that you don’t know or that you regard as suspicious. If you DO open an email, be sure not to click on any links contained within. Be particularly aware of emails containing COVID-19 attachments.

·        Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date. Download any system updates on your smartphone as they will contain the latest security measures too.

·        If you are unsure if some charities or crowdfunding sites are real, visit the official website from a browser and donate from there, rather than using an email link. Don’t send cash by gift card, or by wiring money.

·        Watch for emails claiming to be from World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you wish to know further information, visit their websites from a browser.

·        If you are seeing social media posts, such as adverts, informing you of the latest cure, ask yourself “Is this really the place I would first hear this news?”. It’s unlikely….. The same goes for any ads telling you they have a test that will diagnose you.

·        Don’t ever reveal any sensitive or personal information, online or if called.

·        Question EVERYTHING

Notty.co.uk has lots of ‘cyber-benefits’. There is free McAfee protection (link to blog), dark web searches and notifications, using up to 5 pieces of information, a cybercare package, social media scores, just to mention a few. Keep up to date with any tech and much more by reading our blogs.

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