Scammers Never Sleep
by Rich and Sheila Jamison
As if the coronavirus battle didn’t give us enough rules to remember already, we’re adding one more. The current situation has brought out a number of scammers. Some are obvious – like the one selling a $300 bottle of Purell.
Others are harder to recognize. This is especially of those using email. Here are the kinds of things you need to know about in order to protect yourself.
Phishing (emails that masquerade as coming from a trusted source) has grabbed the coronavirus as a lure to sucker you into an email. These emails can be used to steal login names and passwords, credit card numbers, etc. It can also be used to install malware on your computer. (Watch out. These come in text messages too! Follow the same rules with them too.)
The most important rule in dealing with all phishing emails is simple, but not always easy – NEVER click on any links or attachments in these emails.
Simple? Yes … piece of cake!
Easy? Not always. What happened to simple? That can be a very tempting piece of cake.
Phishing emails can appear quite authentic. Coronavirus-related emails are even more compelling. Here’s why.
1. You’re probably getting many emails about the virus. For example, we have received many that tell us of the steps that firms are taking to keep their employees and us safe. This routine receipt of COVID-19 emails makes it easier for a phony one to hide among them others.
2. There is not a whole lot of definitive information about the disease. What we do have keeps changing. Therefore, an email that promises more information is very appealing … and makes you more inclined to click on the link in it that has this info for you. Imagine that it claims to come from the CDC or your state health department. DON’T click! If something important had happened, it would be all over the news already.
More insidious are emails that promise a cure for COVID-19, usually a secret one, perhaps even one with the heading of, “What the CDC is hiding from you” and a link or attachment that will tell you that secret of ‘eternal life.’ Tempting, isn’t it? Keep in mind that there is no secret medicine or cure for COVID-19. One day, there probably will be … but that’s not today.
And The Winner Is
The most appalling one we’ve heard of is a phony Johns Hopkins’ map. You’ve seen this one many times, as the media uses it regularly. It is at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html if you want to check it out. It is interactive so you can check figures for individual areas (and even has a listing for “cruise ship”) that change with time. Here’s what it showed on Monday, March 16, 2020.
The knockoff looks the same … but it contains malware that steals usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and more that are stored in your internet browser. (We have to give them credit for originality as the malware is called “corona.exe.” Seeing that, you might want to click on it. Don’t do it.)
Tax and/or legal information contained herein is general in nature and for informational purposes only. It should not be relied upon as advice. Consult your tax professional or attorney regarding your unique situation.