Scammers use COVID-19 as angle to prey on new victims
The COVID-19 vaccine was released this week, and already there are scammers looking to capitalize.
Criminals are already trying to spread misinformation about the vaccine in efforts to steal people's money or personal information.
A select group of health care workers became the first in our region to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week. Most people will have to wait a few months for their turn to get one. But people on the dark web claim to already have the Pfizer vaccine on sale now.
"Hackers are opportunistic, that's for sure. And we've seen it, especially throughout this whole COVID cycle,” says Kierk Sanderlin, of the cybersecurity company Check Point Software.
Sanderlin points out that the people pulling off this scam are seeking payments of untraceable bitcoin to unknown parties.
Other scammers are using the vaccine to freshen the old trick of phishing emails to get recipients to click a link and divulge personal info.
“When users click the button, they’re taken to a fake website that urges them to log in using their existing email credentials in order to sign up for the vaccine,” says Eric Howes, of KnowB4. "You’re essentially handing malicious actors the keys to your email account."
Experts say whether it’s based on the coronavirus vaccine scam or something else, email scams are generally easy to beat if you follow a few basic rules:
- Don't trust deals that seem too good to be true, especially if they pop up out of nowhere in your inbox
- Check the email address and make sure the email is from who you think it’s from
- Don’t give out login or personal info in response to texts or email
- Enable browser protection to automatically detect malicious websites
- Use two-factor authentication to stop someone else from logging in to your accounts
"All in all, you just need to be alert and aware and somewhat skeptical of emails you receive, especially when they seem to be promising a little too good,” says Howes.