If you received an email advertising a new vaccine for the coronavirus, would you open it? If a doctor called you requesting payment to treat your family member for COVID-19, would you share your information?
While the world is focused on the coronavirus (COVID-19), criminals are taking advantage of the situation.
"We are seeing coronavirus-related phishing attacks and we are seeing them at USAA," warns Michael Stewart, assistant vice president of information security at USAA. "We are seeing emails advertising alleged coronavirus-related benefits and others from a healthcare perspective."
Other potential scams include fraudsters pretending to be members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization to obtain personal information or selling fake coronavirus test kits and vaccines that do not exist.
"Fraudsters like to take advantage of these situations," explains Stewart. "They will leverage the coronavirus and urgency around it to get people to click on things or give up information that they might not otherwise disclose."
Some additional scams during this pandemic period to be aware of include:
- Charity scams: Stay alert of scammers contacting you to donate to fake charities. Research the organization you desire to sponsor to ensure your information is protected.
- Product or services scams: Items like hand sanitizers, disinfectants and household cleaning supplies are often offered by scammers who will keep your money. Scammers also offer cures, coronavirus test kits and vaccines that do not exist. Services can range from house cleaning to doctor visits.
- Employment scams: Scammers create job ads to lure unemployed consumers to fake jobs. The scammers will wire money or send a fake check to you, asking to send a portion back or use the funds to purchase goods, which are directed back to the scammer
Tips to protect your information include:
- Secure your accounts: use multifactor authentication everywhere, especially with banks, phone and email providers. This extra layer of security helps keep you safe.
- Stay vigilant: scammers will contact you by phone, email or text offering products, services or humanitarian opportunities. They often pose as credible companies "phishing" for login or personal information Pause to confirm it's a credible company before proceeding.
- Monitor your accounts: stay close to your personal bank accounts, report suspicious behavior and respond to alerts.
- Use trusted Wi-Fi networks: as more people transition to work from home, ensuring your Wi-Fi network is password protected is critical to safeguard your information.
- Be informed: visit the FTC's Consumer Information site for more information at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing
More information is available at www.usaa.com/coronavirus.