Be Aware of Phishing Scams

— Written By

Cartoon image fo phishing attempt

Beware of COVID-19 Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are something that we should be vigilant of at all times. But it seems criminals do like to exploit times of difficulty and prey on peoples’ anxieties more during times of uncertainty. Cybercriminals are sending out new email attacks specifically designed to exploit fears and anxiety about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Cybercriminal email attacks may feature the following:

  • A lure to download something.
  • A call for action, typically asking you to review a document or web content about COVID-19.
  • A highly sophisticated presentation of graphics and text pretending to be from local, federal, or international government. Be particularly on guard against email requesting upfront payment in order to receive the coronavirus-related government stipend.
  • A claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It may contain online offers such as vaccinations, coronavirus tests, test locations, or medical supplies.

Tips to avoid scams

  • Don’t respond to any email that urges you to act immediately, especially when inciting fear with alarming images or language.
  • Don’t click any suspicious links, open any attachments, download anything, or reply. If you hover your mouse over a link and see a different link displayed at the bottom-left of your browser window, you are probably being scammed.
  • Be especially wary if a trusted email sender asks you for gift cards or money while claiming to be under COVID-19 quarantine. If you receive an email from someone you know asking for money or personal information, contact that person directly to confirm. You can also check the email sender’s real information by clicking the “To” down arrow and then carefully checking all details.
  • If you receive a notification asking you to confirm login credentials or to address a problem with an account (that you didn’t initiate), DO NOT click on any links in the email–go directly to the site referenced and log in there.
  • Don’t provide your social security number, bank account numbers, or credit card information. The government will NEVER call you to ask for these and will NEVER ask you to pay anything upfront to receive a stipend. Take a minute and really think about what is being asked of you in the message and from whom/where it came from. If it seems suspicious, it probably is.

Report suspected scams immediately.  Go to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) website to report a scam. They will investigate the scam and work towards identifying and prosecuting the cybercriminal. If you prefer, you can report scams to your local police or sheriff’s department.

Written By

Terry Walker, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionTerry WalkerCounty Extension Administrative Assistant Call Terry E-mail Terry N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rutherford County Center
Updated on Apr 1, 2020
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