As more of us work from home, it is vital to be skeptical of originating outside of your organization, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scammers target teleworking employees through “Fake Termination Phishing Emails” and bogus meeting invites. Many states are seeing widespread fraud campaigns where scammers use teleworkers’ identities to file false unemployment claims.
These scams change and evolve quickly. Everyone should treat texts, emails, or phone calls regarding COVID-19 with skepticism. Unfortunately, in our technological age, scammers predictably use public concern about COVID-19 to benefit themselves. Victims of COIVD-19 scams risk identity theft or having fraudulent unemployment claims filed in their names. Some scammers pretend to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for insurance (including
Medicaid or Medicare) ID numbers or other financial information:
- Other typical COVID-19 related schemes include:
- Offers of phony tests or cures for COVID-19 online.
- Phishing emails made to appear as coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)
- Malware and Ransomware embedded in websites and apps that steal personal data from user’s computers or lock access to victims’ data until payment is received.
- Fraudulent appeals for donations to illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations
- Attempts to gain information to fraudulently bill for medical tests and procedures.
There are some simple ways to protect yourself and your company from these sorts of COVID-19 scams:
- Treat unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies with skepticism.
- Do not open hyperlinks in, emails or text messages or about COVID-19 or respond to such messages.
- Only use reputable information sources that you access directly (such as the coronavirus.gov)
- Ignore COVID-19 testing or treatment advertisements or offers on social media sites.
- Never give personal or financial information to anyone you do not know, especially those claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.
Report any attempted COVID-19, whether it was successful or not, by calling 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477). The FBI encourages people who suspect COVID-19 scams, whether successful or not, to report it to their local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch). The list of FBI Field office contacts is at http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field. You can contact CyWatch by phone at (855) 292-3937, or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov.