Coronavirus Online Scams

The coronavirus pandemic has affected us on a national and global level. This pandemic has caused a financial and health crisis for most of us. Now, the bad actors are taking advantage of this tragic situation by engaging in online scams. For example, our law firm’s investigation has determined that they are sending emails and other types of messages to unwary individuals as a way to extract sensitive or confidential information.

The Federal Trade Commission has outlined the following steps to avoid coronavirus scams:

  • Do not pick up any kind of robocalls and do not press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.
  • Do not respond to online offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
  • Do not accept information that has not been properly verified. People share information that has not been verified.
  • Do not purchase items from unknown retailers. Online sellers may falsely claim to have highly-demanded products (e.g. cleaning, household, medical supplies) but it may be false.
  • Do not respond to texts and emails about government checks because the agencies may still be working on the process.
  • Do not click on hyperlinks you are not familiar with or do not recognize because you may be downloading malware to your electronic devices.
  • Do not click on emails that claim to be coming from CDC or other government agency. You should independently visit the government agency’s official website – e.g., World Health Organization or National Institutes of Health for more information.
  • Do not make donations without confirming the organization’s operations. Do not let anyone force you to make donations before carefully fact checking their representations.

The following steps should help you implement a more secure environment when working from home:

  • Update your software programs on a regular basis
  • Implement strong passwords on all electronic devices, applications, and accounts
  • Secure your network by turning on encryption. For example, you can use WPA2 or WPA3 as the encryption standard for wireless communications. Do not forget to update your router’s software.
  • Carefully watch your laptop and ensure it is not left unattended.
  • Store sensitive files by using a secure method. For example, make sure you encrypt the files and store them in a secure location.
  • Dispose sensitive information by shredding documents or properly purging the files.
  • Follow your employer’s security protocols when working from home.

Internet fraud has caused and continues to cause complications. For example, the bad actors are using the following methods to engage in their fraudulent schemes:

  1. Business Email compromise
  2. Personal Email compromise
  3. Data breach
  4. Denial-of-Service attacks
  5. Malware or scareware
  6. Phishing or spoofing
  7. Ransomware

The culprits have engaged in internet fraud for years that includes business fraud, credit card fraud, internet auction fraud, investment fraud, Nigerian letter fraud, or merchandise sales fraud. There are state and federal laws and reporting procedures for internet fraud. In addition, there has been a rise on phishing attacks which target unsuspecting individuals. The bad actors send emails and pretend to be working for legitimate organizations. The message will usually include an attachment which should not be downloaded because it may contain malware. The malware, if downloaded, can grant access to your computer or other electronic devices.

It’s important to know your legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to internet and technology laws. Please contact our law firm to speak with a knowledgeable internet and technology attorney at your convenience.