American officials are cautioning residents about several fraud schemes, including malicious websites, email scams and suspicious links, designed to prey on vulnerable people in the midst of the Covid-19 public health crisis.
“Malicious actors can prey upon those that are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and use it to their advantage,” Los Angeles County chief information officer William Kehoe said in a statement. “The public needs to be mindful and careful and avoid websites, phishing emails, and scams that engage people through false information about the health crisis, and steal personal user information and data. By clicking on fraudulent weblinks, hackers can deliver malware and then gain access to passwords, browsing information, credit card numbers, and other personal information. We all need to stay vigilant.”
Currently, there are several coronavirus tracking and mapping sites that are actually malware websites, according to the county.
Instead of clicking on these links, cybersecurity experts advise that users should instead hover over the link to verify the URL before moving forward. Online hackers might also send users emails from fraudulent accounts impersonating official websites and doctors, or offering medical supplies and services.
A trusted COVID-19 mapping resource is the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Global Map, which can be found at coronavirus.jhu.edu
Scammers are also trying to take advantage of residents spending more time at home and online. Fraudsters have been reaching out door-to-door asking for donations and fundraising contributions through cash, Bitcoin or Paypal. Residents are reminded that they are not required to open their door and should not feel intimidated by a false sense of urgency to answer door-to-door solicitations.
American officials provided a list of safety tips the public can follow:
- Avoid online advertising offers related to COVID-19
- Decline door-to-door solicitations claiming COVID-19 fundraising
- Do not click on emails and attachments that you do not recognize
- Visit trusted websites for COVID-19 related information