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Remain Vigilant Against COVID-19 Cyber Scams

August 27, 2020

You’ll want to read up on recent scams that could impact you. Criminals are using the COVID-19 pandemic to play on fear and steal information from you.

Did you read up on the 2020 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams? You’ll want to make note of COVID-19 related scams that criminals are continuously using to take advantage of taxpayers. As of August 23, 2020 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported that victims have lost more than $118.1 million, with a median loss of $290. Complaints range from COVID-19 and stimulus payment related scams to identity theft. Here’s a closer look at what you should be watching out for, and how you can protect yourself for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

Warning signs

Scammers are using the COVID-19 crisis to incite fear and trick taxpayers into wiring money and sharing personal information. Recent scams include:

  • Phishing- Watch out for phony emails claiming to be from the IRS or other trusted authorities. Scammers are taking advantage of keywords such as coronavirus, COVID-19 and stimulus to play on fear. When in doubt, don’t click on any links and delete the email! A recent scam involves subject lines like “Urgent Information: COVID-19 Approved Vaccines”.
  • Contact tracing scams- Others are posing as contact tracers, warning people they have been exposed to the virus.
  • Robocalls- Often in robocalls, texts or social media posts, scammers will sell in-demand supplies such as surgical masks, test kits, and household cleaners. Check out the Consumer Resources page on the FTC website for more info on this.
  • Fake charities- Scammers will often exploit national disasters and pandemics by setting up fake charities to steal your information. Take a minute to search for the charity on the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check to ensure you are donating to a qualified charity.
  • Social media scams- Watch out for messages on Facebook (even those that appear to be coming from a close friend or family member) that include links. Never click on anything that looks suspicious…if it seems fishy, it probably is!

What’s in store for the remainder of 2020?

Criminals will continue to exploit weaknesses as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. While there is much uncertainty at this time, you can ensure that your personal information and finances remain safe from criminals by following certain guidelines.

Some recommendations for individuals:

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for money or personal information.
  • Do not share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
  • Do not make a payment because you’re being pressured to do so.
  • Call a friend or family member if it appears they sent you a message you’re unsure of—it could be a scammer in disguise!
  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.

With many businesses working remotely for the remainder of 2020, it’s crucial that companies revisit their IT infrastructures to protect their businesses.

Some recommendations for businesses:

  • Update your acceptable use policies for employees and address the use of home computing devices
  • Refresh and update cyber incident response and disaster recovery plans to address current operational needs.
  • Reinforce security procedures with employees.
  • Enforce software updates for remote workers.
  • Make sure cyber alerts and audit logs of critical systems (VPNs, firewalls, endpoint security tools, etc.) are centrally collected and analyzed so you can detect and respond to suspicious activity.

If you need advice on your particular situation, reach out to us.

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