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Email Scams during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Since the pandemic started there has been a noticeable increase in phishing emails, scams, and different types of fraud.

Recently phishing attacks look even more like they came from a specific company. This is called “spearfishing,” and hackers might pose as your bank, credit card company, or a site like Dropbox or PayPal. Generally, targets receive an email that looks as if it came from a legitimate business. You might be prompted to click on a link to “verify account details” and from there, malware is installed on your device.

Where you once had to download a file or an app to get malware, it’s now a matter of clicking a link. These kind of fileless attacks are also more difficult to detect, as most antivirus programs only scan your hard drive.

Here are some examples of emails you may receive:

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What to Do if you receive one of these emails

  • Never click a link in an email that comes from a bank, government agency, or commercial institution. If the link comes from a company, check your account by going directly to the website by typing the URL into the navigation bar manually.
  • Check at least once a week for updates for your computer’s security software, and run scans several times a week. I personally have used Webroot for the last 8 years – it runs in the background and automatically scans for viruses. I have been very happy with it. Also Malwarebytes is a great program that removes malware and spyware.
  • If you get an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be a tech support provider for your computer or software – hang up!
  • If you get any warning message on your computer – read it carefully. Bad grammar or misspelled words are telltale signs of a false warning.
  • If you get a fake virus alert message – just shut down your browser. You can do this on a Windows PC by pressing Control-Alt-Delete and bringing up the Task Manager. On a Mac, press the Option, Command, and Esc (Escape) keys, or use the Force Quit command from the Apple menu.
  • Never allow someone who calls you out of the blue to access your computer remotely.
  • Never rely on caller ID to determine if a caller is on the level. Scammers can make it appear as if they’re calling from a legitimate number.
  • Never give your computer username or any account passwords to someone over the phone.
  • Never provide financial information to someone who calls a few days, weeks or months after you've made a tech support purchase and asks if you were satisfied — it's probably a “refund scam.” If you say “No,” the caller will ask for bank or credit card information, ostensibly to deposit a refund in your account but actually to steal from you.
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