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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Email Scams

The amount of news media surrounding the Coronavirus has created new dangers – phishing attacks that are looking to exploit public fears. Cybercriminals are sending emails that claim to be from legitimate organizations with information pertaining to the virus.

Emails may ask you to open an attachment or click on the link within the email to see the latest statistics. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, you’re likely downloading malicious software onto your device.

Tips for recognizing and avoiding phishing emails

Like other types of phishing emails, these email messages will try to lure you into clicking on a link or providing personal information that can be used to commit fraud or identity theft. Here are some tips to avoid getting tricked:

  • Beware of online requests for personal information. A Coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information such as your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Legitimate government agencies will never ask for that kind of information. Never respond to any email with your personal data.
  • Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse cursor over the URL to see where clicking on the link will take you. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. If you see that the link is not legitimate, delete the email.
  • Watch for spelling or grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email.
  • Look for generic greetings, phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
  • Avoid emails that insist you act immediately. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.

Where can I find legitimate information about the Coronavirus?

Go directly to reliable sources for information about the Coronavirus. That includes government offices and health care agencies.

The CDC website includes the most current information about the coronavirus. Here’s a partial list of topics covered.

  • How the coronavirus spreads
  • Symptoms
  • Prevention and treatment
  • Cases in the U.S.
  • Global locations with COVID-19
  • Information for communities, schools, and businesses
  • Travel

World Health Organization – provides a range of information, including how to protect yourself, travel advice, and answers to common questions.

National Institutes of Health – provides updated information and guidance about the Coronavirus. It includes information from other government organizations.

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