A crisis brings out the good in people. In some people, that is. In others, it brings out their worst. I’d like to warn you about the latter.
As people look for as much information about the health, social and economic effects of this pandemic, criminals are seeking to take advantage, turning common information searches into information theft. Likewise, criminals are attempting to use the good intentions of good people as a way to steal money. We recently had a client who was the target of a very sophisticated attempt at wire fraud – an attempt that included the perpetrator actually registering a domain name almost identical to that of an organization on which our client is a board member.
Here are some ways thieves are attempting to steal your information, and then your money.
- Outbreak maps. Malicious actors have begun spreading malware through online maps claiming to track the impact of coronavirus. As users visit the sites or click the links, they are exposing usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, browsing history, or other nonpublic personal information that is then exploited by the attackers or sold to other criminals on the dark web. If you want to monitor an outbreak map, I suggest you only use the Johns Hopkins map.
- Email campaigns. Criminals are also leveraging common forms of fraud like spam email campaigns, using infected attachments or downloads to gather information.
- Phone calls. Criminals are masquerading as government officials attempting to get your bank account information, ostensibly to send your $1,000 pandemic relief payment. Hang up. These are thieves. The government will never call and ask for your bank account information.
- Be on guard for sudden or urgent requests for money – either from family members with whom you don’t regularly communicate or non-profit organizations claiming an urgent need for money. Before sending money to a family member or friend, talk to them on the phone and verify that it is them.
- If you want to help a non-profit or other service organization, consider helping organizations with whom you already have a previous relationship, so you know they are legitimate.
- Don’t click on unknown links. Period.
- When in doubt about anything, voice verify. Make sure that you are dealing with someone you know.
By the way, a combination of checks/balances and common sense thwarted the cyber-thugs trying to steal money from our client. So if something doesn’t feel right, don’t trust it. Verify it. Or call us and we will do what we can to check it out.
Please call me (or anyone at MCM) if you have any questions or concerns about anything.