How to avoid COVID-19 online scams

How to avoid COVID-19 online scams

Recently, there has been a significant rise in the online scams related to COVID‑19. Hackers and cyber scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by sending fraudulent email and WhatsApp messages and normal text messages that attempt to trick you into clicking on malicious links or opening attachments. These actions can reveal your user name and passwords, which can be used to steal money or sensitive information.

Types of Scams Messages

Some common types of COVID-19 Scams:

  1. Stealing your personal data: Scammers ask for too much information like your address, bank account details, or even PIN number and OTP to "fix" your insurance policy or conduct fake contact tracing. This helps them to steal your personal data and money from your bank account.   
  2. Fake offers of Goods and Services: Criminals send mails like Massive discounts on masks or subscriptions to online entertainment services from unknown third parties to steal your money.  
  3. Impersonation of Authorities: Impersonation of government organizations like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) offering COVID‑19 information. Criminals call victims/sends fake links to the victim on Whatsapp, E-mail, and on over normal text message pretending to be MoHFW, ICMR, WHO, National Coronavirus Relief Fund with the aim of tricking victims to provide credentials or payment details, or to open an attachment containing malware. If you click on that link then a malware would be downloaded into your device which helps criminals to steal your personal data.  
  4. Fraudulent Medical offers: Criminals send messages like Offers of cures, test kits, hand sanitizer, or face masks that never arrive.  
  5. Fake requests for charitable donations: Criminal ask for Donations to support COVID‑19 relief on behalf of non-profits, hospitals, or other organizations should be carefully checked. This is how scammers and criminals are doing fraud.

How to Avoid These Scams:  

  1. Don't share any information: Don't share your personal details like bank account details, Debit/Credit card PIN, OTP, and UPI PIN to anyone on phonecall and message because legitimate sources never ask for any type of personal details. 
  2. Check trusted sources Directly : Before clicking on any link first directly visit sources like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to get the latest factual information about COVID‑19.  
  3. Donate directly through Non-profit Organizations: You can donate directly through their website ─ rather than clicking a link sent to you.  
  4. Search on Google:  Directly copy and paste the message on google search to check that it's a scammed message or not. If it will be a scam message then you will surely get the details of scam and you can verify it from there.   
  5. Use 2 Factor Authentication:  Use two-factor authentication on your account because it added as an extra layer of security. It is also known as 2 step verification.

Where to Report these Scams:

  1. Recently, Government of India launches a web portal where you can report any kind of cyber crime complaints. Report here
  2. Also, Any scam related to Covid-19 you can report it to Google. 
  3. For Phishing: Report here and For Malware: Report here
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