Managing the Spike in COVID-19 Related Scams and Identity Theft

The huge shifts in society brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have left many people in vulnerable situations. And unfortunately, scammers and identity thieves are quick to take advantage of difficult times. Many new scams related to the pandemic have popped up in recent months, robbing people who are already under immense stress of their finances and identities.

To prevent the worst, like a stolen identity or lost resources, it helps to know what tricks scammers are playing. Today, we’ll discuss common COVID-19 related scams so you can keep an eye out for the signs and protect yourself.

Social Media Data Mining

You may come across quizzes on social media that say they will test your knowledge about the pandemic. While this may seem like a useful tool to help you stay informed, the quizzes actually take advantage of access to your online presence. Once you click on a quiz, its program will glean as much information from your social media profile as possible and use it to figure out your online footprint. From there, the scammer often has enough of a foothold to access sensitive information.

If your mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, or other personal information is on your social media, these seemingly harmless “quizzes” can use that data to reset your passwords and hack into your accounts. To avoid this scam, never click on any suspicious or unsubstantiated COVID-19 social posts and keep personal data off your public profiles.

Fraudulent Pandemic-Related Bills & Calls

You likely keep track of the bills you pay every month to help budget. Rent, utilities, credit cards, and monthly subscriptions are all typical expenses—but a new charge that pops up suddenly is a huge red flag.

If you receive a charge for a pandemic-related service you don’t remember purchasing, it’s a good idea to freeze all of your accounts. This could mean someone has your information and is actively trying to get into your finances. Scammers may also call to offer the installation of COVID-19 detectors in your home—these detectors do not exist and you should not give these callers any personal information.

Scam callers can seem harmless and are often friendly. They generally target older individuals. Some scams have popped up where a caller offers to pick up groceries for an older person and asks for that person’s debit card number over the phone. While many organizations are offering to get groceries for those who can’t leave home right now, they will never ask for your bank information over the phone.

Fake Charity Donation Appeals

Scammers are not afraid to tug on your heartstrings—they know it’s easier to manipulate their targets with emotion. And many charities are campaigning for donations right now to help those who have been impacted by the pandemic. Scammers will take advantage of these calls to donate by sending out fake messages that look like they’re from legitimate organizations like the World Health Organization or Red Cross.

Most scam emails will ask you to donate, which will give them access to your bank account. But even if they don’t ask for money, they can still cause damage. Some fake emails will include attachments to brochures about the organizations the scammers are impersonating. Never download any attachments from suspicious emails. These downloads have dangerous software that can fish information from your computer.

DataShield can help you stay protected from scammers and provides professional shredding services to ensure no one compromises your identity—no matter what. To learn more about shredding services as well as the other security services DataShield offers, contact us today.

 

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