Now that COVID-19 stimulus checks are starting to arrive to several Americans, hackers are finding new ways to plan their attacks and take full advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. The FBI has sent out a warning for the American public to be on the look out for COVID-19 check scams. Cybercriminals are using the delivery of stimulus checks as another way to launch a scam. As the FBI explains, “Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.”
As a managed IT service provider, we are closely monitoring this situation. Below we have provided some helpful information from the FBI on the different ways a hacker can attack with a COVID-19 Stimulus Check Scam.
Beware of fake emails claiming to be from the CDC
During this time it is important to keep a close on eye on the emails you are receiving. Here is what the FBI is recommending: “Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.”
Phishing emails requesting personal information
Be careful with emails that are requesting personal information as they may not be coming from a legitimate source. The FBI shares, “Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money.”
Here are the types of phishing emails the FBI mentions that could result in a stimulus check scam:
- Charitable contributions
- General financial relief
- Airline carrier refunds
- Fake cures and vaccines
- Fake testing kits
Imitating products that are of high demand
There are several products that are in high demand to help stay safe from the COVID-19 virus. With that said, the FBI is warning, “Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves.” Take precaution if you are exploring any of these items as it could be a scam and, furthermore, lead to a cyber crime.
Please remember to first check the source before clicking on any links if you do receive a communication in regards to the COVID-19 virus. Stay safe as these are uncertain times, therefore, keep any eye out for anything strange as it may be a sign of a stimulus check scam. Only consider engaging if it is a reputable source. Otherwise it could be a hacker waiting to unleash their cyber attack.