FTC Alert: Coronavirus Scammers Love Scary Bad News



coronavirus-graphic-400_210Scary news stories in the headlines always bring out the bad guys looking to make a quick illegal buck.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reminded consumers that scammers are taking advantage of the fear surrounding the Coronavirus to separate you from your money!  Scammers love to use social engineering techniques triggering emotional reactions like fear, greed, urgency, helpfulness, or curiosity to get you to take urgent actions to override you better judgment. It didn't take long for the bad guys to piggyback off scary news headlines about the Coronavirus spreading to start phishing campaigns. We advised our readers about it in a previous blog article. 

Today, the FTC warned,  "Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information."

"The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments."

The FTC provided these helpful tips:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

 In our previous blog, we advised sending this advice to your friends and family as a heads up! It's still a very good idea.

I would send your employees, friends and family something like the following. Feel free to copy/paste/edit.

"The worldwide spread of the new Coronavirus is being used by bad guys to scare people into clicking on links, open malicious attachments, or give out confidential information. Be careful with anything related to the Coronavirus: emails, attachments, any social media, texts on your phone, anything. Look out for topics like:

  • Check updated Coronavirus map in your city
  • Coronavirus Infection warning from local school district
  • CDC or World Health Organization emails or social media Coronavirus messaging
  • Keeping your children safe from Coronavirus
  • You might even get a scam phone call to raise funds for "victims"

    Stay safe out there! 

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