With more seniors quarantining in their own homes, reports are emerging of coronavirus scams and threats that attempt to take advantage of our fears regarding COVID-19. Many of these scams may seem legitimate at first because they use a well-known company’s name, logo or mimic a government agency like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In short, these scams target people across the country, as many have not learned how to identify what a phishing scam is, what it looks like and what to do when you get one of these emails arrives in your inbox. In this article, we will identify coronavirus scams and how to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams.
What is a Phishing Scam?
By definition, phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information and more. Scammers disguise themselves as trustworthy organizations or businesses through email, instant messaging and more.
In particular, COVID-19 cyber scams may look like offers for discounted or even free stuff in light of the pandemic. The COVID-19 scams may even be phone calls in which someone asks for sensitive personal information or a website that appears to have credible information on COVID-19. In fact, these websites or coronavirus scams may cause harm to your computer or steal personal information.
Here are some examples of COVID-19 scams people have reported:
- Fake antivirus software that supposedly protects against COVID-19.
- Free passes to Netflix during the pandemic.
- An email is received with an attached document entitled “List of Hotels and Inns – State affected by COVID-19” — The document has a virus or ransomware payload. Seen in Brazil.
- An email attachment looks like a Word document, but actually contains an archive file delivering an exploit.
- Attackers pretend they are trusted organizations such as the World Health Organization or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Fake websites are created that look like legitimate COVID-19 information but deliver exploits.
- A site asks you to fill out a census form to receive your stimulus check.
How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Scams
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19 scams is to educate yourself on what phishing scams are and what they look like. So, lucky for you, you are doing exactly that right now!
Given the creativity used by scammers, how can you check if an email, website, or telephone call is fake? A good place to start is the Federal Trade Commission’s page on scams. To report a scam, you can go here.
Additionally, Medicare.gov provides important tips to help protect yourself from scams and Medicare fraud. Always remember:
- Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
- You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
- Medicare will never visit you at your home.
- Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
If you receive an email that you suspect to be a COVID-19 scam, there are a few things you should look for to protect yourself:
- Is the email from a company you know and trust?
- Are there any misspelled words?
- Does the email address match the company? Does it look legitimate?
- Does the email have a generic greeting such as “Hi Dear?”
- Does email invite you to click on another link to enter sensitive information?
When in doubt, do not click links or fill out forms or answer questions from callers you don’t know. We have seen fake login pages for web-based email, Facebook, banks, and credit cards: What these fake sites are trying to do is capture your real credentials so that they can log in later to your real sites.
It is also important to protect yourself while using video platforms.
Note: if Iora invites you to a video visit:
- The link will look something like meet.google.com/xnx-qmgv-fzm —
- Do not be fooled by links such as googlemeeting.org/xnx-qmgv-fzm or anything that does not start with “meet.google.com.”
Visit CheckPoint for more information on tips for a safe and secure experience using video platforms.
Additionally, only share your Medicare Number with your primary and specialty care doctors, participating Medicare pharmacist, hospital, health insurer, or other trusted healthcare provider. Check your Medicare claims summary forms for errors.
With regard to Iora Primary Care, no Iora team member will ever ask for your password.
For more information on COVID-19, visit our Live Better Blog for more articles like how to keep busy during quarantine or how to ease anxiety.