The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new breed of predator taking advantage of people’s fears and vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals are using phishing attacks and scams related to COVID-19, exploiting people’s concerns around the virus, often pretending to be from authoritative bodies like the World Health Organization, to gain access to sensitive information or money. There has also been an increase in the number of fake products being sold online, including counterfeit hand sanitizer and COVID-19 test kits. Investment scams that promise quick, guaranteed profits have also been used to extract money from victims. People should be cautious of unsolicited communications, only visit trusted websites, conduct research, and keep software up to date to protect themselves.
Expert Warns of Predator Capitalizing on COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed virtually every aspect of our daily lives, from the way we work and socialize to how we shop for essential goods and services. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also created new opportunities for fraudsters and scammers looking to capitalize on the crisis.
According to cybersecurity expert Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of The Herjavec Group, the pandemic has given rise to a new breed of predator that is taking advantage of people’s fears and vulnerabilities. “We’re seeing a lot of phishing attacks and scams related to COVID-19,” he says. “Cyber criminals are using it as a way to get access to sensitive information or money.”
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the ways that predators are taking advantage of the pandemic and what you can do to protect yourself.
Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals try to trick you into giving them sensitive information, such as your bank account details, passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing scams are often carried out by email or text message and can be very sophisticated and convincing.
With the pandemic, phishing emails and messages are increasingly taking advantage of people’s concerns around COVID-19, such as pretending to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These scams may ask you to click a link to download information about the virus, or to make a donation. However, the link will lead you to a fake website that asks you to enter your personal information, including credit card details, to receive the information.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been an increase in the number of fake products being sold online. These include everything from fake hand sanitizer to COVID-19 test kits.
Some of these products are not only ineffective but can actually be dangerous. For example, counterfeit hand sanitizer may contain harmful chemicals or not contain enough alcohol to be effective at killing germs.
Some predators are taking advantage of the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic to promote bogus investment opportunities. These scams may promise quick returns or guaranteed profits, but in reality, they are nothing more than a way to steal your money.
Victims of these scams may be asked to invest in a “revolutionary” new company working on a COVID-19 cure, for example. However, the company does not exist, or if it does, it is not working on anything legitimate.
How to Protect Yourself
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams:
1. Be wary of unsolicited communications – Do not respond to email or text messages requesting personal information. If you are unsure, contact the organization directly to verify the authenticity of the request.
2. Only visit trusted websites – Be careful where you click. Do not visit websites you don’t trust, and do not click on links in emails or texts from unknown sources.
3. Do your research – If you are considering an investment opportunity, research the company and the people behind it. Check with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to see if the company is registered.
4. Keep your software up to date – Keep your computer, smartphone and other devices updated with the latest software and security patches.
Q: How do I know if I have been scammed?
A: If you have given away personal information or sent money to a scammer, you should contact your bank or credit card company immediately. You should also report the scam to your local law enforcement agency.
Q: Can I get my money back if I have been scammed?
A: It depends on the type of scam and how you were scammed. If you sent money using a credit card, you may be able to dispute the charge and get a refund. If you sent money through a wire transfer or other non-reversible payment method, it may be more difficult to recover your money.
Q: What should I do if I receive a suspicious email or text message?
A: Do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments. Report the message to your email or telecommunications provider, and delete it from your inbox.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new opportunities for predators to take advantage of people’s fears and vulnerabilities. Phishing scams, fake products, and investment scams are just a few examples. To protect yourself, be wary of unsolicited communications, only visit trusted websites, do your research, and keep your software up to date. If you suspect you have been scammed, contact your bank or credit card company, and report the scam to your local law enforcement agency.