The global coronavirus pandemic has already changed our lives. We worry about health, finances, and more. Much about our normal way of life has simply shut down for now.
Unfortunately, phishers, scammers, and hackers have not shut down. In fact, many are working even harder. They are trying to take advantage of the chaos and our increased anxiety.
How do scammers take advantage of this situation?
- A text, call, or email that says your financial institution’s contact information has changed (but it hasn’t).
- A text, call, or email confirming account activity (that you know you didn’t make), and supplying you with a number to call if you have an issue. The number connects you to the scammer, who asks you to hand over sensitive information to verify your account.
- Apps that appear to have important information about COVID-19, but instead launch a ransomware application on your phone.
- An interactive COVID-19 map that claims to be from a reputable medical organization, but instead infects your device with malware and ransomware.
- Phone scams that offer access to a COVID-19 vaccine, but ask that you first share your credit card or Social Security number.
Just as in normal times, we suggest you take a few simple precautions to protect yourself:
- Don’t open attachments or click on links within emails from senders you do not recognize or were not expecting.
- Be suspicious of emails or phone calls requesting personal information or requesting you to verify your account. Legitimate businesses will never call you or email you directly for this information.
- If you’re ever in doubt, call your financial institution (with a number you know is real) to verify any piece of communication you receive.
The coronavirus pandemic is a prime opportunity for criminals to play on fear being felt by everyone. PERA reminds members to spend some time researching any offers before clicking and providing information. While much is in flux these days, here’s what hasn’t changed:
- PERA’s phone number is the same (1-800-759-7372)
- Your account information does not change unless you change it
- PERA does not send you text messages with account or transaction information