As everyone is spending much more time online, in both personal and professional capacities, various scams are surging amongst communities. These scams are taking advantage of individuals’ and families’ concerns, worries, and desperation. These cons are not only affecting personal lives but companies’ viability as well, as scammers are exploiting those who let their guard down.
We’ve compiled some of the most prominent scams you may come across and identified tools to help you avoid them:
1. FRAUDULENT CORONAVIRUS INSURANCE
As scammers begin to see the height of concern for those with financial and medical woes on the brain, they will try calling households claiming to be health insurance agents selling affordable insurance to cover coronavirus “treatment.” Anyone offering a health policy that has a coverage provision is likely a scam, so hang up on any similar call from an automated message and avoid sharing any personal information over the phone or by email.
2. CANCELING HEALTH INSURANCE
In addition to robocalls regarding coronavirus “coverage,” you may receive a phony telephone call claiming that your current health plan was canceled, in efforts to stir up concern. This will likely be followed up with a toll-free number to call in order to “fix” the error, or if this communication is via the internet, a spam link will be provided that installs malware, so avoid this at all costs.
3. FAKE TRAVEL INSURANCE
Many people must travel during these uneasy times, whether it is to relocate somewhere safer to shelter in place or to care for families and friends in need. Be vigilant when it comes to pitches for travel insurance that claim to cover COVID-19 affiliated trip cancellations. As Cory Sobczyk, the vice president for business development at Arch RoamRight, says, “Most travel insurance plans don’t offer coverage for pandemics like the coronavirus,” so look into what your policy does and does not cover, as companies may try to be vague to mislead you.
4. CORONAVIRUS TESTS AND MEDICINE
It’s widely known that there is no vaccine nor cure for COVID-19 just yet, so any message received regarding vaccines, drugs, or medicines that are “insured and paid for” by your health policy are false and should be disregarded. It is only natural to be tempted by promises of cures or preventative measures during this time, although considering this is the first time this virus has been seen in humans, there are no existing vaccines or drugs to treat COVID-19 that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Not only will these fraudulent products rob you of your money, but they could lead to life-threatening harm.
5. HACKING INTO VIDEO CHATS
As so many employees are now working from home, video conferences are becoming the norm for meetings and check-ins for companies, as well as a platform for socializing during after-work hours. Cybercriminals have managed to edge their way into popular video conference software such as Zoom and Skype. By hacking into private video chats, hackers can leverage the screen-share feature to retrieve private information and/or display inappropriate content that boots attendees off the chat. While there is only so much one can do to steer clear of video hackers, being diligent to keep call dial-ins and video chat links private will help avoid the potential risk. If the content of your meeting is sensitive, Zoom now has a Waiting Room feature which prevents anyone from entering the chat until the host is ready.
6. FAKE CHARITIES
With the abundance of people diagnosed with COVID-19, struggling to make ends meet while balancing finances and uncertainty, there are many incredible citizens and organizations coming together to create fundraisers through platforms such as GoFundMe. Unfortunately, with each genuine fundraiser comes fake pages that are created by scammers in hopes to con you out of your money. A foolproof way to avoid these imposter pages is to verify any links sent to you before sending any donations and be sure not to donate in cash, gift card, or by wiring money. If you come across a campaign or page on the popular website GoFundMe that appears blatantly fake, you can report it to their team. It’s also a good idea to keep your guard up with any requests seeking coronavirus related donations. If you are looking to help those in need, do some research and try to find a reputable organization that you can address your check to.
IN THE END, YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER THE INFORMATION YOU SHARE WITH OTHERS.
The best way to avoid these various scams is to simply never hand out personal information and avoid clicking any links from unknown people or spoof email addresses. Of course, there are situations where personal information is imperative to be provided a necessary service, so prior to doing so just be sure you’re chatting with an esteemed company and do the appropriate research. There are cybersecurity basics to keep in mind such as keeping your security software up to date, setting strong (and different) passwords for each of your devices and programs, and keeping your electronics nearby and never unattended in a public place.
Some more actions to take to keep yourself and your finances safe are to secure your home network by turning on encryption, safely storing sensitive files and information, and securely disposing of sensitive files and information. Another quick beneficial authentication subset is enabling 2-step verification, which will double your security measures and further protect you from any phishing attempts by allowing you to authenticate logins from another device.
In the end, you have control over the information you share with others. You can protect yourself against online scammers exploiting the coronavirus pandemic for their own benefit by taking the time to look over any shared links prior to clicking on them, and avoid posting any important information in any public forums of any kind.
Source: Home Ownership Matters