If you are now working from home on a computer, you’ve noticed that never before have we witnessed so much malware, phishing and ransomware scams and other deceptive email practices than during this COVID-19 “stay at home” period. The bad actors with way too much time on their hands see a goldmine of opportunity as employees work from home, outside the corporate firewalls.
We hope this will help you recognize and avoid being victimized by these scams.
- How: From an email or text message, you are tricked into providing personal information like: name, address, phone, email, social security number, account numbers and passwords.
- Why: They are trying to gain access to your bank account, credit card account, an online payment website you use, like Amazon.
- How to Recognize: They usually look like the company you know or trust: same logo, colors, type font, even the same mottos or taglines. There’s usually an effort to scare you. They may say they noticed suspicious activity in your account, or you have a problem with your payment information, or you need to confirm some personal information for your own safety. Sometimes they even say you’re entitled to a refund or offer a freebie gift. Lately, they may suggest you need to provide personal information to become eligible for another government handout.
If read carefully, you may recognize bad grammar, typos, or unnatural arrangement of words and phrases that suggest a non-English speaking writer.
The better scammers are difficult to identify, like this refund notice from Amazon (compliments of GoPTG). If you’d recently purchased from Amazon, the notice looks flawless — so you click. However, if you had not made a recent purchase, alarm bells go off! So you click the link to quickly update both your address and your password. Bingo! A spammer’s double header.
Conscientious companies require home-based employees to log in for work-related activity, so it is usually our personal activity that serves as the playground for bad actors in cyberspace.
If you receive an email that looks “fishy”, right click on the “From” email address. If it doesn’t match, you will know immediately that the email is fake. You can learn more about these nefarious practices on the FTC Consumer Information website and scams specific to COVID-19 here.
Stay safe and remember, we’re all in this together.