By Joshua Lange, Lending Compliance Officer
There’s nothing like a crisis to bring out the best — and worst — in people. While we hunker down, practice social distancing and shelter in place to protect our families, friends and neighbors from the coronavirus (COVID-19), scammers are out in full force. Be on the lookout and know how to protect your identity and finances from swindlers.
1. Be wary of emails from the CDC or WHO
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are at the forefront of coronavirus information and research. Their experts appear on virtually every news outlet around the clock. Their facts are widely cited and distributed. And information about the pandemic changes daily.
Criminals know we’re hungry for the latest information from these trusted sources. They’re sending out emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO to deliver malware to your computer. It’s usually contained in an attachment or link to a malicious website. This malware aims to steal the credentials you use to log into your financial accounts.
Play it safe. Don’t open any emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Visit their websites or rely on your trusted news sources for updates.
2. Look out for other coronavirus-themed emails
Screen your inbox for other coronavirus-themed phishing emails. Be skeptical of any email that offers medical advice about COVID-19, or any product to prevent or treat it. Federal authorities have warned several companies to stop selling products based on deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims.
Also be careful about emails that look like they’re from your employer about a new pandemic policy. These might look official, but it’s another way scammers are getting people to take the bait and spread information-stealing malware. It’s a good idea to ask someone in your company’s HR department if they have emailed any new policies before you open anything.
3. Watch out for fake websites
The Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore developed an interactive coronavirus dashboard that tracks the virus’ global spread. It’s a resource that has been widely shared – and unfortunately, faked. Scammers have created fake sites with visual maps to distribute credential-stealing malware. They drive traffic to these sites by sharing links through social media and phishing emails. Be careful – or completely avoid – clicking on links in emails or social media in these situations. Use only trusted sources or do a separate web search on your own to find these resources.
4. Be careful where you donate
It’s natural to want to help those who are struggling when you’re in a position to do so. Sadly, there are many stories of how the coronavirus has taken a physical and financial toll on people. Before you give, make sure you know the person or organization you’re donating to.
As crowdfunding sites gain success and popularity, they can also be another avenue for scammers. Criminals have made up heart wrenching (and fake) stories and closely mimicked names of trusted organizations. CharityWatch offers a list of reputable charities that are helping during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a good place to start or vet organizations.
Learn more about online account safety
Find more tips on online account safety and visit Cinfed Security Corner to learn more about how to prevent fraud and identity theft. If you have questions or concerns about any communication you receive from Cinfed, call our Contact Center at (513) 333-3800. For updates from Cinfed regarding the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation, visit our designated web page. For more information about managing your accounts online, click here.
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