Many people described the first half of 2020 as “uncertain times”. And things have been uncertain. Everyone’s had a lot of questions about pretty much everything – from what the Covid-19 virus is, to how it spreads, to what the government’s going to do about it.
Criminals always look for ways to exploit uncertainty, and they never take a day off. For some criminals, the coronavirus pandemic has presented a perfect opportunity to take advantage of peoples’ fear and confusion.
There have been a lot of cyber crime scams over the past few months. Cyber breach insurance can help you recover if you fall victim to a coronavirus scam. But like with many things, prevention is better than a cure. So let’s take a quick look at some of the most common coronavirus scam tactics, so you’ll know what sort of red flags to look out for.
Coronavirus Text and Email Scams
The biggest scam when it comes to text and email is a process known as “phishing”. You’ll get a message that looks like an authentic message from your bank. It might say that there’s a “problem” with your account, and it’ll probably ask you to provide certain details to help fix the problem. But this is just a trick to get you to share sensitive details with criminals. With this information, criminals will be able to access your account and clear it out.
Sharing sensitive information via phone, text or email is such an insecure way of sharing information that banks almost never contact customers by these means. So if you get a suspicious email from your bank – or even one that looks official, but which seems unusual – just ignore it. Contact your bank yourself and ask about any problems, and you can report the scam in the process.
Some phishing scams have specifically exploited the uncertainty people feel about Coronavirus. For example, there was a fake email supposedly from the World Health Organisation, claiming to contain expert tips for staying safe from infection. But organisations like the World Health Organisation don’t just email people, unprompted. So again, if you get any messages from any organisations you’re not subscribed to, it’s best to ignore them. And you certainly shouldn’t click any links they contain.
COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories
As the government has struggled to contain and treat a brand new virus, they’ve inevitably made a lot of mistakes. You might have got the impression, from time to time, that they’re not telling you everything. What are they hiding?
Again, unscrupulous criminals have found ways to exploit this mistrust. One scam involved sending an email that claimed to contain “the truth” – the real survival tips that the government doesn’t want you to know. All of these tips were contained in an attached Word document, which itself contained a virus designed to steal bank details from your computer.
How can you best avoid these scams? Simple – don’t trust any messages you receive from untrusted sources, and put your guard up any time anyone claims to have “the truth”. They’re just trying to play on your distrust. But if you find your curiosity gets the better of you, never click any links in any messages you receive, and never download any attachments.
Coronavirus Test and Trace Scams
The NHS launched their Test and Trace system in late May. It’s a means of tracking new outbreaks of the coronavirus, so that anyone affected can self-isolate and avoid spreading the infection any further.
Unfortunately, not even the Test and Trace app was safe from criminals. The police released specific details of everything the Test and Trace system will ever ask you to do, along with some things it’ll never ask you to do. For example, it will never ask you to dial a premium number, to make any form of payment, to provide any bank details, to download any software, or to share any passwords or pins.
The best way to avoid a Test and Trace scam is to familiarise yourself with how the system works. Learn what you’ll need to do, and what they’ll never ask you to do. That way, you should be able to tell the difference between a genuine message from the NHS, and a scam message from a criminal.
Further Safeguards Against Coronavirus Scams
Common sense is the best weapon you can use against all forms of cyber-crime. If something looks suspicious, or if something doesn’t feel right, ignore it. Plus, never share any sensitive information, such as login details, passwords, or even your date of birth, with anyone you don’t trust.
But criminals are always learning, and they’re always looking for new ways to exploit people online. Even if you’re fully trained in cyber-security, it’s still possible to fall victim to cyber-crime. It can happen to anyone! So you shouldn’t feel bad if it happens to you.
But if anyone can become a victim of cyber-crime, then it pays to get extra protection. That way, in the event of a worst-case scenario, you’ll be able to recover from any cyber breach and any interruption to your life and your business.
At Tapoly, we offer bespoke cyber breach response insurance as an optional add-on to our professional indemnity insurance. This will cover you for everything, from legal and forensic services, to identify the source of the problem, to ongoing identity monitoring services, to help reduce the impact of the cyber breach.
Our cover starts from as little as £11 a month, with no hidden fees.
If you would like an insurance quote or have any questions about our products please give us a call on 020 7846 0108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.