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It’s natural to be anxious and unsettled during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. With so much uncertainty, it is smart to do some research about how this virus could impact you and your family on a physical, emotional, and financial level. You may also be concerned about your business or employment status and want to take steps to safeguard your livelihood. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also aware of the vulnerabilities facing all of us and are trying to cash in on those in the form of online scams.

During this time of social distancing, many of us are spending more time on our phones and devices either working remotely, accessing news, shopping, or for much needed entertainment. That extra screen time may leave you and your family open to scams based upon fears and worry surrounding this global health crisis. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are several ways scammers will use COVID-19 to target people.  

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Medical Treatment Scams 

Google the terms “coronavirus vaccine”, “tests”, or “antibody screenings” and you will get quite a large number of results. Sadly, there are so many scams out there around illegitimate testing sites, false exposure alerts, fake cures, and unproven treatment options. These scammers are playing on our fears to lure us to unsafe sites, potentially getting users to input personal information including date or birth, name, address, and even a credit card number. Always do your homework and check on these medical sites before you enter any information or attempt to pay for testing. 

Charity Scams 

In addition to crooked medical offers there are also charity scams asking for donations for people and groups affected by COVID-19. Charity Navigator suggests confirming that the charity that you are donating to is legitimate by checking to see if they are a registered public 501(c)(3) organization. Ask the charity what their EIN is. If they don’t have one, don’t donate. Once they give you their EIN, you can find them on the Charity Navigator site

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Phishing and Malware Scams

Phishing and malware scams are extremely common right now and may be used to gain access to your computer or to steal your credentials. Malware is often described as malicious software such as spyware, ransomware, or viruses that can gain access to your computer system without you knowing. Malware can be activated when you click on email attachments or install risky software. Never open emails or reply to texts from unknown senders even if the heading is COVID-19 related. 

Phishing scams are similar in that they are usually in the form of an email or attachment that may be from what appears to be a trustworthy source to try to convince you to share sensitive data such as passwords or credit card information due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Federal Communications Commission FCC has received reports of scam and hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears. They suggest protecting yourself by not responding to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious. They also suggest never sharing your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone. Be suspicious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately. Always check with the actual charity, institution, or organization by calling them directly. 

Due to these issues cyber liability insurance has recently become a much needed component of business and personal insurance. Please check out our cyber liability page and talk to our agents about how this coverage could help you.