The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for cybercriminals to send emails claiming to be from legitimate organizations with information about the coronavirus. Scam can include financial scams, misinformation campaigns, spear fishing attempts, and telephone deceptions and often include collecting sensitive information, stealing money, spreading false information or hacking into the victim’s device.
COVID-19 scam emails can take different forms, including providing CDC alerts, health advice, and workplace policy emails.
Here are some tips on protecting yourself from scams related to COVID-19:
- Beware of online requests for personal information. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information. Never respond to the email with your personal data.
- Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
- Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
- Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
- Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.
- Hang up on phone calls or robocalls where the caller is asking for your personal information or asking you to act now.
The best way to find legitimate information about COVID-19 is to go directly to a reliable source for information including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Institutes of Health. The most reliable local information can be found on the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH), State of Illinois, DuPage County and City of Elmhurst websites.