With coronavirus scams on the rise, here’s what to watch out for

With the coronavirus pandemic intensifying each day, scammers are feeding on our collective fears.

Hackers are filling up inboxes with claims about coronavirus vaccines or test kits, offers to sell in-demand household products like hand sanitizer, and emails about supposed stimulus checks from the government. 

Here is what to watch out for so you don’t become the latest victim:

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Don’t get phished

The first — and most effective way — to shut down a scam is to think before you click.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned that clicking links in emails from people you don’t know could lead to your computer being infected with malware. 

If you do click on a link, it’s essential to pay attention to the website URL to determine if it is real or not. The security firm Check Point previously told Digital Trends that a website posing as amazon.com could have a URL like amaz0n-jp[.]com — with a zero instead of an O. 

The second important thing to look out for is who sent the email.

The FTC said that phishers pose as credible organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The email subject and content could seem legitimate with logos and the right lingo, but only by looking at the sender’s email address will you know if the email in question is real or not.

What’s real versus what’s fake 

Some email topics are surefire ways to identify a scammer.

Emails claiming to be from the government regarding a government check are always fake.

The FTC said that the government is still working out details of how to get stimulus checks to residents, so any email telling you that you can get your money now is fraudulent.

The FTC also warned to watch out for emails asking for donations, especially if the language makes the donation urgent. Phishers could be posing as an organization asking for donations, so do your research by visiting the organization’s official website before giving any money to anything.  

And most importantly, any email claiming to have new information about the coronavirus outbreak that isn’t officially from the CDC or WHO probably isn’t legit. 

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

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