COVID-19 We cannot let our guard down

May 21 2020
Simone Caron, IFPC

The COVID-19 scams have only gotten more sophisticated and spread further over the weeks of isolation. As healthcare teams feel overwhelmed, governments across the world are making provisions to get hold of more protection equipment. Employees are also faced with the struggle of reduced pay or even retrenchment with looming month end bills. We really can't afford to let our guard down.

Google has revealed that it’s servers are currently blocking around 18 million scam emails per day and one fifth of those relate to COVID-19. Tech firms are predicting that the pandemic is the biggest phishing topic in history, however, in an effort to clamp down on Corona Virus scams and misinformation, Google is using it’s machine-learning tools a to block more than 99.9% of emails from reaching its users. Cyber security company, Barracuda Networks said it had seen a 667% overall increase in malicious phishing emails as well as many malicious websites and smartphone applications based on genuine coronavirus resources- many claiming to track the infection rate and spread of the virus. Whatsapp later joined the movement, limiting the number of times it’s users were able to forward messages on to their contacts. However, there have been many malicious websites and smartphone apps based on CoronaVirus resources and data.

In response to the growing wave of phishing mails, the National Cyber Security Centre issued a guide to dealing with and avoiding phishing scams. The article looks at dealing with the consequences of clicking on phishing links, spotting the warning signs of a scam based on the urgent, emotive messaging and preventing yourself from becoming a target. The key is to manage your digital footprint - the personal information you put on the internet including your social media privacy settings and location settings. Always ensure your computer is protected by antivirus software.

Many employees face redundancy as companies look to cut costs to simply stay afloat due to the recent restriction, making business impossible. This means many of the unemployed are looking for temporary work resulting in a rise of work-from-home scams. Many businesses continue to keep their doors closed and many of their employees still work from home, making a remote working position with limited face to face communication with the hiring manager somewhat believable.However, It is advised that if the job offer sounds too good to be true, it probably will be. Always research the company before accepting any offer and ensure the interview process is legitimate and allows you to ask questions and do your own due diligence before making a decision. A survey conducted by FlexJobs showed that more than 80% of job seekers report being concerned about scams on other job boards and almost 20% of job seekers have been a victim of a job scam, with 22% of job seekers knowing somebody who has been victim of a job scam. Do not let a hiring manager push you into making an immediate decision or revealing any financial or bank account information in the beginning stages of the interview process. Always research the company and the hiring manager and although it is normal to receive email communications from your potential hiring company however, most interviews should be conducted via video or phone call.

Its important to remain alert and rely on credible sources of information. If you find yourself in a difficult position, make use of the government COVID-19 relief scheme for unemployment. We see it as our duty to keep you informed of these scams taking advantage of the vulnerable and overwhelmed. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.

We see it as our duty to keep you informed of these scams taking advantage of the vulnerable and overwhelmed. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.

COVID-19, pandemic, rates, scams, fraud,