How to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams

By Joel Flood on April 2, 2020

The news coverage regarding COVID-19 has dominated our lives recently. Cybercriminals are now trying to capitalize on our collective concern. Here are a couple specific angles we have seen cybercriminals trying to use recently:

  • Through phishing emails, bad actors are claiming to have new information about COVID-19. Best practice: Instead of clicking any links in the email, go directly to the sources site by typing the web address in your browser or searching Google on the topic. When in doubt, use trusted sources for current information such as the Center for Disease Control or Department of Homeland Security websites, rather than information sent via email.
  • Cybercriminals have been capitalizing on our want to help others in need during times of crisis by establishing fraudulent charities to receive donations. Best Practice: Before responding to an email about giving a donation to a charity, verify the charity’s authenticity. The Federal Trade Commission has a webpage on Charity Scams that can help determine if a charity is legitimate.
  • The Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) warns of fraudsters claiming that the products or services of companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus – promising the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. Best Practice: Carefully research the recommended company before making an investment decision. If you have a financial advisor who acts as a fiduciary, reach out to them for an unbiased and trusted investment advice.

To review, a phishing email is an email designed to deceive the recipient to gain information (e.g., passwords or credit card information) or access (e.g., installation of malicious applications). Phishing emails may appear to be legitimate, as cybercriminals can spoof an email address so it appears to be sent from someone that you know or a popular news source.

Now more than ever, be cautious of unsolicited emails and avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in those emails. If an email seems different than previous emails from the same sender, in tone or appearance, do not click on links or open attachments.

As a general reminder, never reveal personal or financial information in emails and do not respond to unsolicited emails that request this information.

One way to safely think about emails is to visualize an email as a postcard. Anyone with access to the postcard can view the note on the postcard. One would not write their Social Security number or bank account information on a postcard, likewise, one should not email this information either.

Dowling and Yahnke Wealth Advisors understands the monumental responsibility we have to protect our clients’ information. Dowling & Yahnke will never request personal or financial information to be sent by email and we have strict policies to call clients directly to confirm wire transfers. In addition, our team is educated on a monthly basis on the latest Cybersecurity risks and best practices. We are proud to offer a complimentary Digital Concierge virtual meeting for our clients where we demonstrate how to access and transfer account information securely.

We hope this reminder empowers you to protect yourself during these trying times. Please reach out to our team if you have any questions regarding the safe keeping your information or if you would like to discuss the preservation of your wealth.


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