Scammers know the best methods to get people to fall for what they're doing. In a worldwide public health crisis like the one we're facing, cybercriminals are working overtime to tailor their emails, robocalls and other nefarious activities to take full advantage of people's fear and panic. For example, so many scammers use the World Health Organization logo in phishing emails that the organization has a webpage called Beware of criminals pretending to be WHO.
Recent articles—the first three are freely available online—explore what's happening and how you can protect yourself.
"The Internet Is Drowning in COVID-19 Related Malware and Phishing Schemes by Dan Goodin
arstechnica.com, March 16, 2020
This is a useful summary full of specific examples.
"Watch Out for Coronavirus Phishing Scams" by Lily Hay Newman
Wired, January 31, 2020
This article gives a solid outline of what had already started happening this winter with coronavirus scams and what experts were expecting. It illustrates that this behavior is not a surprise, but is something that calls for knowledge and caution. A follow-up article, "Coronavirus Sets the Stage for Hacking Mayhem," gives a wider cybersecurity perspective focusing on hackers and the (newly) remote workforce.
"Fake Tests, Fantasy Cures & False Government Aid Checks: Chicago Authorities Warn Scammers Are Ramping Up As Coronavirus Spreads" by Jason Meisner and Dan Hinkel
Chicago Tribune, March 26, 2020
This articles gives the local perspective and includes a very good point: With increased internet and cell phone usage, swindlers have more targets than ever before.
Now that you understand what's going on, do you need to brush up on cybersecurity basics? Chicago DigitalLearn is the resource for you. Our interactive Online Scams course gives you a foundational understanding—and it takes only 11 minutes to complete.
The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent marketplace fraud and deception, and it educates the public about how to avoid becoming a victim.
- Coronavirus Scams: What the FTC Is Doing addresses the scammers looking to take advantage of the pandemic.
- Consumer Information Blog offers tips and resources including alerts about scams.
The National Center for Disaster Fraud, established after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and included in the Chicago Tribune article above, is taking reports of fraud via phone and email.