Anxiety can make us sad and upset but knowing that God is with us can bring so much joy in the face of desolation. -Psalm 94:19
During this stressful time, be calm and thoughtful to protect yourself from being a victim of fraud. With the COVID-19 uncertainty, criminals are using scare tactics that could install malware, ransomware or steal personal identity such as credit card details, bank accounts, or HIPAA data. These criminal actions can come in the form of emails, phone calls, or bad web sites - often appearing to come from work, family, friends and companies you trust.
The following information is from trusted sources with guidance to prevent unauthorized access to your personal information.
You can protect yourself from malicious and costly damage by following best practices regarding email.
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. Only open email attachments if you’re expecting them and know what they contain. If you are uncertain, you can always call them to find out.
- Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19. Go directly to these sites vs. clicking on links in an email.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations or phone calls for this information.
- Phishing can and does happen by phone – often with a faked number that looks like it’s from your area or from work.
- Don’t provide any information if you are uncertain as to who is really on the other end of the call.
- Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations.
- You don’t have to give over the phone. Don’t let any caller pressure you. A legitimate charity will be happy to get your donation at any time, so there’s no rush. Take time to do the research.
- Ask the fundraiser for the charity’s exact name, web site address, and mailing address, so you can confirm it later. Some dishonest telemarketers use names that sound like large well-known charities to confuse you.
- CISA recommends using the following websites to investigate legitimate charities:
- Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.
- Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead. Also, do not automatically say “Yes” when asked a question – this answer can be recorded for malicious purposes.
- Deactivation Scares – claims your account will be deactivated unless you act now. Close the email. Do not click a link to the company. Instead, if you must, type in the website address in your browser of the company. Common scams like this appear to come from companies like Wells Fargo, Paypal, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.
- Police / Lawsuits / IRS / Friends or Relatives in Trouble / Your Computer is Infected are all common scams meant to scare you into taking immediate action. Hang up!
- Look-alike websites – close the email, then in your browser go to the legitimate website.
- Tech support scams – if you’re contacted by someone who says they can see into your computer and you have a tech problem they can solve, don’t believe it. Don’t give out any login information. Legitimate tech and customer support don’t approach users in this manner.
- Save a Friend – never send money to save a friend. Phone the friend to verify the request.
Legitimate companies don’t request your sensitive information via email, they know how to spell, they don’t send unsolicited attachments, and they know your full name. Your diligence and thoughtfulness in dealing with all forms of communications is your personal FIRST and BEST defense against all forms of malicious activity!
Thank you to the PHS IT department for sharing this information.