What they’re up to: COVID-related crimes
Pandemic and coronavirus vaccine-related scams are on the rise. Protect yourself!
Working from home
Experts are warning of the severe proliferation of COVID-related crimes, malware, phishing scams, data thefts and ransomware in the past 12 months; the objectives of most of these attacks are the employees working from home.
Some companies, when the almost immediate need to switch to WFH happened, opted for asking personnel to work remotely using their own equipment. Others provided their staff with company devices. In both cases there were lapses in security from the lack of antivirus software and un-updated operating systems. Criminals are quick to take advantage of both.
If you work from home, we recommend that you set up automatic updates of your operating system and software, and install
Luckily, global covid-19 vaccine distribution has started. Needless to say, it’s the ideal time for criminals and cybercriminals alike to prey on those waiting their turn. Here’s a few ways to protect yourself from current scams:
- If your insurance company or pharmacy calls to let you know that you qualify for your vaccine, please don’t provide any personal information; if they call you, shouldn’t they have your information? Instead, we recommend that you hang up and call the insurance or pharmacy number to find out if they contacted you.
- The same applies to emails and text messages claiming it’s your turn for the vaccine. Don’t press any links and please, never provide any personal, financial or insurance information. Go to your state, city, region, insurance or pharmacy webpage to find out if it is indeed your turn.
- There are no vaccine sales in any country. If you see ads to buy the vaccine for any price, it’s a scam.
Finally: if you have received the first and/or second vaccine dose, don’t take a photo of the document to show off on social media. These documents have serial numbers, personal information and even a specific look that should not be published; when you do, you open yourself to identity theft and you help scammers fake documents in the future –something that puts all of us at risk-.
Small and medium enterprises
It saddens us to mention that during these very difficult times, small and medium companies are also falling prey to COVID-related crimes as well.
Criminals are contacting business owners claiming to be from government agencies; they say that the company or the owner qualify for a PPP or other type of assistance loan. They obtain the company or owner’s personal data and then turn around to request business loans from the government, stealing the owner’s and/or the company’s identity in the process. The keys to these scams are:
- You get a call, email or text message from the government, your tax office or the official business administration agency in your country.
- They inform that you or the company qualifies automatically –something that is never, ever true.
- The process requires you to provide your name, date of birth, tax ID number and other information
- Alternatively, they request your business information, tax ID and financials.
You can protect your business and your own identity taking a few security steps:
- Before providing any information, confirm that the loans in question exist; then, use the official channels to request one if your company needs it.
- Make sure that you apply with an authorized underwriter present on the official list.
- Check your credit report often. If you can check and also your company’s.
COVID-related crimes and other scams target thousands of our fellow citizens every day. Please check out our Online Security Center to learn more on protecting yourself and yours.