Scams, Fraud, and Hackers in the Time of Coronavirus

With an alarming increase in scams, cybercrimes, and other fraud schemes, we all need to be extra diligent in our actions to protect our businesses, our computers, our children, and ourselves.  Here are some things we need to watch out for and how to stay safe.

Virtual Environment Exploits

A record number of people are working from home, and cybercriminals see this as an opportunity. System vulnerabilities allow criminals to steal your private information by accessing your networks.

The FBI’s Crime Complaint Center has been inundated with grievances about COVID-19 related schemes, including many against health care workers and companies. Businesses with individuals working at home for the first time are particularly vulnerable since workers are learning the software and learning how to set up their VPNs.

Employers should make sure that the systems they are allowing workers to use meet the security protocols necessary for the type of data the company handles.  For example, if HIPAA-level security is required, make sure the apps workers are using are HIPAA-compliant.

Employees should rely heavily on their IT departments to make sure they have set their systems up correctly and that they follow the right guidelines when using technology. It might be a great opportunity to offer training so employees can push through any learning curves they have been putting off when it comes to using software.

Current Threats

Just recently, Zoom meetings were being interrupted by uninvited people that eavesdropped on private meetings.  Zoom changed the software interface and suggested that everyone use meeting passwords to avoid unwanted guests.

Watch out for fake CDC emails, people trying to sell you miracle cures, and counterfeit equipment.  Especially be on the lookout for emails related to IRS refund checks, charities, airline refunds, and fake testing kits.  All of these are current scams that are happening today.

Prevention

This advice is timeless:

  • Install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it updated.
  • Don’t use software that you don’t know where it comes from; if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Keep your passwords very strong and change them often.
  • Use different passwords for each account, especially your banks, payroll systems, and other systems with sensitive data.
  • Use 2-factor authentication when offered.
  • Don’t provide personal information over the phone or via email.
  • Don’t click links in emails from people you don’t know.
  • Know your IT people and only hire reputable companies.
  • Be careful of emails impersonating name brand companies.
  • Be wary of leased or used equipment as it’s not always virus-free.
  • Don’t share meeting links on a public platform.
  • Make sure URLs you enter are correctly spelled.
  • Watch out for schemes that ask you to wire or ACH money to a regular creditor when it is not really them.
  • Raise the alarm when people ask you for last-minute changes or won’t talk to you via phone call.
  • Put procedures in place to monitor children’s online educational and other activities to keep them safe from predators.
  • Perform regular credit monitoring or lock down your account.

If you find out you are the victim of a fraudulent incident, immediately contact your bank or employer to stop funds or freeze your account.  Change your passwords. As soon as possible, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or BEC.IC3.gov.

You can also report fraud here: https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus

Let’s stay safe in more ways than one.

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