In this post, I’ve collated some information to help you stay safe and avoid scams during Coronavirus (COVID-19) in particular, when there seems to be a heightened level of attacks and data breaches. Did you know that cyber attacks are up 660% since the lockdown? SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY PERCENT in the past few months! That makes us all so much more vulnerable.
In a time when we’ve seen the world rally together, strangers become friends and generosity becoming second nature, unfortunately there are still the few out there that look to use such a crisis to turn a criminal profit.
There’s nothing wrong with legally and ethically profiting from such a pandemic, when you’re ADDING VALUE and providing service to people. That’s a universally accepted law.
But to profit from another’s misery or misfortune is unacceptable.
It’s no coincidence that “scam” and “scum” are almost spelled the same, barring a vowel… ’nuff said.
I thought I’d put together a post to help people be a bit more conscious and aware of the scummers (pardon the spelling) during this crisis.
Even as a greater proportion of our life and data start transitioning online, we need to be very careful about data breaches, scammers/scummers and hackers. However, as you build your online / eCommerce businesses, you’ll have an even greater exposure online and it so pays to be cautious.
How can I identify a scam?
Here are some examples of coronavirus scams that you should be on the lookout for:
- Requests to transfer cash or give over bank details
- Fake competitions and “free” supermarket vouchers
- Unsafe or fake products, like antibacterial gel or masks
- Strangers asking for cash upfront to do food shopping
- Strangers offering cleaning services that claim to kill coronavirus
- Fake coronavirus home testing
- Loan sharks or strangers who ask for upfront fees to get you loans or credit card
Your gut instinct is there to serve you, trust it!
- If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Additionally, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- If someone knocks on your door or calls you out of the blue, tell them you’re not interested and end the conversation to give yourself time to think about it.
- Be wary of requests for cash or financial details.
- Almost all scams are trying to get money from you in one way or another.
- It might not be obvious at first, but if you reach a point where you feel as if you’re having to hand over cash or give any financial details away, take a moment to think about how much you can really trust this person or thing.
- Don’t click links or enter a password if it doesn’t look right.
- Some scammers don’t bother asking for your financial information — they’re trying to take it from you by getting into your accounts directly.
- So avoid any links that you’re not confident come from a real organisation you already use, and be cautious when entering your password anywhere new.
Where do these scams appear?
Scams can appear in all sorts of places, but here’s where you should be particularly careful:
- Social media sites (e.g. Facebook)
- Text message
- Regular mail/post
- Online adverts on websites you visit
- Phonecalls and cold calling
- When someone knocks on your door
Remember – even if something is sent to you by someone you know and trust, they might not have realised it’s a scam. So be careful.
Google has prepared a fantastic quiz to help you identify suspicious / phising mail
It looks suspicious, what do I do?
DO NOT click on any links or agree to anything straight away.
If you need help working out whether something’s real or fake and it’s using the name of a brand or organisation, you can contact them to see if they’re really behind it.
If you’re being targeted by a scam and you or someone else is in serious danger or risk of harm, you should contact the police immediately.
For anything less serious, you can report the scam to the local authorities, who will look into it for you.
A quick Google search will be able to identify who your local authority is, depending on where you are in the world.
If you’re concerned that your data has been compromised, you need to act quickly to make sure you stop anything else from happening if you possibly can, such as:
- Contact your bank and credit card companies to alert them and freeze cards/accounts
- Change your passwords, especially if you use the same password for many different accounts!
- Get in touch with any others who’ve been exposed or the person you received the scam from.
Staying safe out there is not just about keeping 2m away and wearing a face mask. You’ve got to make sure you mask your personal information too.