(NEWS10) — The Federal Trade Commission warns that scammers target companies as well as individuals, and reminds us that emergencies tend to bring such fraudsters out of the woodwork.
Coronavirus has caused many uncommon transactions—expedited orders, cancellations, and refunds—to seem normal, especially when working from home.
To that end, the government agency released a rundown of seven major coronavirus scam categories that exploit the business community.
- In public health scams, digital con artists pose as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, or other public health offices and ask users to download or click links from emails, or to provide social security numbers and tax IDs.
- In government check scams, phony calls or emails claim to give you government money if you make an up-front payment or give them personal information.
- Beware business email scams, when a call or email seemingly from a supervisor directs you to wire money, transfer funds, or send gift card codes.
- An information technology scam is much like a business email scam, except the scammer will impersonate an engineer or computer help desk technician asking you to download software or click an illegitimate link.
- A supply scam mimics the designs, colors, and logos of known online vendors and claim to have essential supplies you need.
- Robocalls are nothing new, but in the COVID-19 world, they pitch bogus test kits and sanitation supplies.
- Data scams target people working from home, hoping companies have lowered online defenses to make it easier for telecommuters to connect. Most end-users do not have much control over data permissions, so security in this department is likely out of your hands.
Any phone number or email address can be faked, so even contacts and messages that seem real may be scammers.
If you are worried that a legitimate organization is contacting you for information, one way to communicate officially is to contact that agency directly via official channels—email or phone numbers—verified and publicized by those agencies and companies.
Similarly, be proactive and call the appropriate individuals in your workplace’s chain of command to verify any requests or directions.