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Coronavirus scams are starting to pop up

Elaborate emails disguised as CDC and WHO messages are actually phishing attempts.


Whenever there are events that capture the attention of the nation there are those who are looking to take advantage of people, especially if they’re in a state of worry. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has gotten increasingly serious over the last week. Cybersecurity professionals are already seeing scams related to the virus by those looking to prey on those during a state of heightened concern. 

"We all know the classic examples of send me money for your rich uncle or I'm traveling and I need cash," said Daniel Greene, Privacy and Data Security Attorney at Beckage PLLC. "Now there are things that are much more exact in who they are targeting and they're doing it at the same time on mass,"

Greene and the attorneys at Beckage are closely monitoring new scams that are popping up, purportedly from organizations like the CDC and the World Health Organization. 

"Unfortunately, it's an opportunity for bad actors, both highly organized and slightly clumsy to leverage the situation," said Greene. "They see that there's uncertainty, they see that people are looking to the internet into their email inboxes for answers, and they're therefore more likely to click on something that they shouldn't."

Email is one of the easiest ways for bad actors to get sensitive information. One of the things that Greene tells his clients is to not panic click and take a moment to think over the email they’re looking at. 

Here are a few tips:

  • You want to float your mouse over the sender's information, so you see where they're actually sending it from not just the name that appears
  • You certainly want to double-check if any website is asking you for your credentials, why they're doing so and understand what's in that address bar
  • Check grammar, see what the request is, if it's something out of the norm, you don't want to do it, you know, and you want to talk to somebody who may know better, or otherwise just avoid it altogether

2 On Your Side has seen the email scams that so-called "bad actors" are sending out. One email wants users to click to download documents about safeguard measures during the COVID-19 outbreak — this is fake. It’s an attempt to steal your data. 

Credit: wgrz

The World Health Organization told 2 On Your Side they would not send you an email asking you to download something or provide your email password. 

"We would not send such emails," a spokesperson said in a statement. 

Greene says to use caution when you get emails out of the blue.

"Go to those trusted sites that you know, for your information, things that are inbound, you should automatically think twice about," he said. 

Two-factor authentication is a way consumers can ensure they're digital footprint is secure. 

Two-factor authentication is a feature on many popular online services that you connect your cell number to the service, such as email. When someone tries to sign on to that service a text message is sent to your phone. If it wasn't you that tried logging in, you'll know your data is potentially compromised..

"So it's really just taking an additional step to prove who you are, you know, when you are logging into a sensitive network, an email inbox or other," said Greene.

An email alleging to be from CDC is also floating around the internet. A similar phishing scam

Credit: wgrz

At the end of the day, the WHO or CDC won't be emailing you, just like the IRS won't be emailing you to transfer money or face arrest. 

There’s a lot of information coming at you from every direction during this situation, and there are people looking to take advantage of that. 

Take a minute, look it over and absolutely don’t click without doing a little investigating. 

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