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Watch for Fraud Scams due to Coronavirus

A recent FBI public service announcement warns that scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal money and personal identification information. The agency warned consumers and businesses to do 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 personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.

Specifically the FBI is urging people to watch for:

  • Emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Emails from scammers posing as such organization may contain malware-delivering links. Internet users should also be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide.
  • Phishing emails asking the recipient to verify personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to charities, general financial relief, airline carrier refunds, fake cures and vaccines, or fake testing kits.
  • Counterfeit treatments or equipment, which some scammers claim will prevent, diagnose or cure COVID-19. The obvious list of counterfeits includes sanitizing products and personal protective equipment, including masks, goggles, face shields, gowns and gloves, etc.
  • Scammers may use COVID-19 as an opportunity to steal identity and commit Medicare fraud. In some cases, they might tell you they'll send you a Coronavirus test, masks, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number or personal information. Be wary of unsolicited requests for your Medicare number or other personal information.

How to Detect Fraudulent Emails

  • Does the email address look legitimate? Look closely for misspellings, dashes, dots or anything else that might not be there. 
  • Is there a link or “Click Here” button included in the email?
  • Is there an attachment?
  • Is the email requiring secrecy or urgency?
  • Does it include a threat (e.g., to cut off service, close an account, etc.)?
  • Does the web address match the business name of the sender?
  • Does the sender ask for non-public personal or bank proprietary details?
  • Are you being asked for computer login credentials like user name or password?
  • Does the wording state they are asking for this information to help you prevent fraud?

How to Handle Suspicious Emails

  • Do not click on links or open attachments if you did not expect the email. 
  • Do not provide any personal information requested in the email without independently confirming the sender is legitimate.
  • Do not forward or share suspicious emails or save attachments to review later.
  • If you recognize the sender and need to contact them, do not use the contact information in the email (phone/email address).
  • Simply delete the email if anything looks suspicious. 
  • Contact your helpdesk or IT Support for further assistance.