Reminders about Novel Coronavirus Scams and Fraudulent Emails

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It’s not just the novel coronavirus that’s spreading all over the world. Scams have likewise become viral as fraudsters strike and take advantage of the Covid-19 crisis. With the public gripped in fear, they easily manipulate people into divulging personal information or giving money.

While you’re protecting yourself from the novel coronavirus disease itself, you should be able to guard yourself against fraud. Here, we outlined different modus operandi and ways you can keep yourself from falling into tricksters’ trap:

On Phishing

Fraudsters will send emails that look legit, bearing the official logo of a reputable institution, say, your bank. In the message, they will ask for personal information, such as credit card details or the one-time-password (OTP) for your mobile apps, in the hopes of taking over your account. Some would claim that you need to share these details so you can be qualified for the payment extension.

How to avoid this scam:

    • Be discerning of emails. One thing you should be watchful for are the links. Hover your mouse over the URLs and see if they’re redirecting you to a completely different site. If it’s not your bank’s official page, then that’s a scam. As a general rule, don’t click on links. Take note of the tone of the email as well. If it sounds like an urgent matter, making you log in or give personal data right away, it’s likely fraud.
    • Never give away financial information. Banks would never ask you for your credit card details, OTP, birthday, home address, and other similar pieces of information. Thus, if you see these kinds of requests, ignore them, as they’re only a scam.
    • Protect your browsers with an anti-phishing toolbar. Customize your browser with this kind of software. When you come across a malicious page, the toolbar will notify you, thereby keeping you from giving personal information.

On Fake Fundraisers

A lot of organizations today are working towards providing more personal protective equipment for frontliners. Unfortunately, tricksters are joining in for their personal gain. They usually pretend to be representatives of a legit organization and ask for donations. The name of the Department of Science and Technology, for instance, has been used for fake charity initiatives, Philstar mentioned in this article. Other times, they will claim that they themselves put up a donation effort. You may have the sincerest motives in helping, but sadly, fraudsters out there don’t.

How to avoid this scam:

    • Verify information. Look for the official website or social media page of the organization in question. See if there are recent posts about their fundraising initiative. Send a personal message to the team to validate.
    • Look for ‘proof’ of donation. A legit charity drive will let the public or at least their stakeholders know where the donations went. This is usually posted online. An initiative is more likely to be a scam if it doesn’t have these proofs.
    • Beware of too-emotional messages. While calls for donations can sometimes evoke strong feelings, you shouldn’t feel coerced into giving. If there’s a sense of aggression in the message to beat a deadline, it’s likely that it’s a fraud.

On ‘Disinfect and Sanitation’ Scam

Disinfection has never been more crucial today as the pandemic surges. Sadly, some people have also used this to deceive people. They would go to different houses and claim that they’re in charge of sanitizing homes. Their real motive, however, is to gain access to properties and loot personal possessions.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Don’t open your doors to a ‘disinfection team.’ There are no groups authorized to sanitize actual homes. Even the local government units engage in disinfection only in public spaces, such as roads, markets, and municipal halls. With that, don’t welcome strangers into your home.
  • Stay updated with the news. In case there will be changes in government policies, get it straight from credible sources. Refer to news outlets for updates.
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  • In the meantime, sanitize your home yourself. This will not only ensure the security of your belongings, but also reduce the risk of infection in allowing people into your home. Use the right cleaning materials and pay special attention to frequently-touched areas. Wash your hands thoroughly after sanitizing.

The threat of scams is as real as the threat of novel coronavirus. Knowledge is power when it comes to avoiding fraud. Understand what criminals use as MO so you won’t fall prey to their tactics. Remember these mentioned precautionary measures to keep yourself protected from scams.

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