Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, personal identification numbers, credit card details, etc by disguising as a trustworthy individual or organization in electronic communication. It comes through emails, phone calls, or text messages and it is one of the most effective tricks used by cybercriminals to compromise accounts and steal sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.
With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which restricted many people from going out, the rate at which people go online has increased tremendously because many people are now working online & searching for useful information about the pandemic.
This development has also attracted online scammers who are experts in taking advantage of people’s curiosities, ignorance & fear to win their trust and steal their identities, sensitive information & money.
Recent research conducted by some organizations revealed that at least 10,000 COVID- related domains are registered every day and about a quarter of them are either suspicious or malicious.
Through COVID 19 Phishing Scams, many unsuspecting victims have been tricked into opening malicious attachments and they ignorantly divulged their Log-In information whih was eventually hacked by cybercriminals.
According to Google, an average of 18 million COVID 19 phishing emails were sent via Gmail to unsuspecting victims within one week.
Research also revealed that Americans have lost nearly $50 million in fraud schemes related to the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of the year.
How to recognize phishing email scams:
1. Many phishing emails come with a sense of urgency or a warning of major consequences if no action is taking e.g. a warning that your bank account will be closed if you don’t respond immediately.
2. Watch out for errors in grammar & spellings. If you notice any error in the spellings or grammar, be suspicious.
3. Many phishing emails come with a link to a fake website where you are expected to validate your personal information.
4. In most cases, a phishing email comes with a malicious attachment used by scammers to steal sensitive information.
5. When you are asked to update your personal information using a Pop-Up Ad, be suspicious.
How can internet users reduce their vulnerability to Phishing Scams during the coronavirus outbreak?
1. Don’t open any attachment or click on any link if you are not sure it is legitimate.
2. Update your browser and other programs. If you are not updating on a regular basis your device may continue to be vulnerable.
3. Always run a virus scan on your computer.
4. If you receive an email and you are suspicious, don’t respond to it until you have confirmed that it is legitimate.
5. Review your bank account & credit card statements frequently to check if there is any suspicious activity.
6. Educate yourself about Phishing Scams because knowledge is your greatest weapon against online scammers.
7. If you think you are a victim of a phishing scam, take action immediately by making a formal report to anti-fraud agencies.
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