Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic, and those that are vulnerable. It’s not uncommon that scammers take advantage of health scares to expand phishing scams. The COVID 19 pandemic continues to spawn dozens of such campaigns. Scared recipients click on harmful links or attachments in emails, text messages and social media posts. IT Specialist, Muzaffer Barday, discussed with Radio Islam some of the common COVID-19 phishing scams that have emerged.
Barday says malicious websites, and applications, which are probably related to COVID-19, claim to share news or testing results. However, their main aim is to get one’s credentials or bank account information, or they try and infect one’s device with malware. Barday said, “Another thing is phishing emails. When they send you emails, they want you to click on a link and again, provide some of the information.” He added, “Another one is fraudulent charities, and unemployment scams, taking advantage of the grants that have been given.”
While it can be difficult to recognise a scam, if you’re in doubt, you can apply a ‘scam test’. Barday said, “If it seems too good to be true, or if you’re contacted out of the blue, if you’re asked for any of your personal details, and lastly, if money is requested, you should be wary.”
The potential dangers of phishing and other scams are financial loss to the victims. Personal information is put at risk, which could lead to identity theft. One’s data and systems are also at risk with malware and ransomware, and so on.
To protect one’s self against these scams, Barday said, “If in doubt, never give out personal information, especially banking details, and your personal identifiable information like your ID number.” He said, “Don’t click on any links from unexpected emails, even if the address looks legitimate, because they can clone email addresses as well.”
According to Barday, factors that people should look out for to try and identify scams are:
- Avoid online offers, especially now, during the pandemic. Barday warns, “A lot of these things (deceptively) give legitimate information.”
- Be wary of emails, calls or social media posts, advertising free, or government ordered tests where you are able to skip the line.
- Don’t click on links that come from unexpected emails, and text messages.
- Don’t share any personal information.
- Be very sceptical of fundraising. Barday says while everybody’s trying to help, criminals try to take advantage of this.
Umm Muhammed Umar