The spread of COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live and work. Whether you are working from home or are still able to work at the office, you have probably been flooded with emails regarding the COVID-19 virus.
Most of these emails are coming from vendors providing details on customer service changes, employee status and more while we are all in a “stay at home” situation.
While others are presenting “offers” for products or services at special pricing or suggested ways to receive your “government check” earlier than everyone else.
These emails are trying to take full advantage of the fear and public interest surrounding this worldwide outbreak. And they’ve increased significantly since the crisis started.
Now, more than ever, you really need to be wary of these “Phishing” or “Scareware” types of emails attempting to get you to open an attached file or click on a web page link.
How to spot a phishing email
Be watchful of emails asking you to verify your personal information.
For example, if an email asks you for personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check, that’s an obvious red flag. Government agencies do not send unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money.
Beware of emails coming from familiar organizations.
Think very carefully before clicking on a tempting link from the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC, or similar organizations, with “positive information about the cure for COVID-19”.
Chances are this is a hacker preying on your anxiety about the COVID-19 outbreak. They might ask for information on how to “contact you directly” and begin the process to try to extract personal information while trying to gain your trust.
No organization like WHO or the CDC is going to reach out to you in this manner. Much less, ask for any personal information to obtain whatever it is they are trying to tell you.
So-called ‘Scareware’ will only ramp up as uncertainty and online searches. So avoid opening an email if you don’t know the source, especially if they’re asking you to open an attached file or click on a link.
We all need to be safe out there. Practice social distancing and also “social engineering” which means practicing caution with any COVID-19 email as well as any social media or text message offering you something for nothing. There is no miracle cure housed in an unsolicited email or social media post.
By John Mitchell