The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic strain that leaves small businesses and some individuals vulnerable to increased malicious activity.
Cyber criminals are targeting the small business sector, and technology professionals are seeing an increase in phishing and social engineering – attempts to lure a person into giving personal information via a malicious link, email or phone call.
These emails and calls may ask you to purchase gift cards, offer to help you fill out stimulus aid applications, ask you to open invoices or other documents, or ask to deposit funds into an account.
If you receive any of these types of offers, please know that they may be malicious. Many companies will not contact you in this manner.
Use the following tips to keep yourself safe:
- Ignore and delete requests to purchase gift cards.
- Call a company at a phone number to verify the email before clicking on any links. A known number is one you have on file, or can get from a reputable source.
- Do not provide any personal information to anyone who calls you.
- Work with companies that you know are reputable to avoid giving sensitive information to unknown parties.
Fraudulent COVID-19-related websites are popping up at a high rate, as well. One type that is malicious offers low-cost resources after collecting payment information. Other types will include links claiming that the user can learn more by downloading a malicious file.
- Please refer to government-owned websites, or other known websites, to find COVID-19 information. Locally, bookmark calhouncountymi.gov and battlecreekmi.gov/coronavirus.
- There are several fake Johns Hopkins University coronavirus websites that ask the user to download malicious files. The real Johns Hopkins website – coronavirus.jhu.edu – does not require a download.