Covid 19 has effected our lives in various ways and frequent lockdowns have disturbed our daily lives. Staying at home, social distancing rules and travel bans have all given rise to increased internet use and greater dependence on online platforms for entertainment, banking, healthcare, business, education, and many government services. Many people have started working from home, many are doing online shopping and many more are engaged in virtual social events. Several online businesses and service providers have strengthened their online presence during Covid 19. Even cybercriminals are getting more opportunities to exploit online service users in various ways which in turn, give rise to disruption of services, data breaches, and financial loss. During times of national crisis, some people, particularly criminals, look for ways to take advantage of others. The current coronavirus outbreak provides the ideal setting for criminals to prey on vulnerable people. Older individuals are frequently their targets. Here are some helpful defences for catching fraudsters and stopping them from doing fraud.
Did you know? That the most common types of frauds during Covid 19 have been related to cybercrime, online customer fraud, as well as misuse of funds.
Different Ways in Which Frauds Can be Combated
The Central, state, and local law enforcement agencies around the country are on a high alert to investigate the numerous reports of individuals and corporations participating in a variety of fraudulent and criminal activities. Some of these include the following:
- Vaccine fraud schemes involving COVID-19 should be avoided. Never give out your personal or medical information to anyone who isn't a known and trusted medical professional. You can always counter-question them to understand by asking for some details to authenticate if the call is a genuine one or not.
- There are many trained personnel who try to pose as government officials or payment facilitators. Such individuals try to lure innocent individuals, offer false promises on behalf of e.g. the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) stimulus money in exchange for personal information.
- Many unsolicited healthcare fraud schemes are sent via email, mobile phone and the Truecaller app. You should be wise enough not to take such calls, transfer such mails to spam and even block such a message on your mobile.
- Be aware of phone calls claiming to sell respiratory masks or other medical devices with no intention of delivering them, as well as phone calls to individuals and entities, such as state and local governments, purporting to sell large quantities of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and demanding advance payments with no intention of delivering it. Keep an eye out for N95 masks, gloves, and surgical gowns that are counterfeit, tampered with, or otherwise fraudulent.
Also Read: Types of KYC Frauds and How to Avoid them
- There are many fraudsters trying to make a quick buck. They share very attractive-looking schemes by uploading them on popular websites. Some may be successful in accessing your mobile details with offers of buying vehicles at attractive rates. These have to be ignored, blocked or even reported.
- There has been an increase in social media scams and phone calls soliciting bank account information in exchange for payments to bogus or non-existent charitable organisations. Emails and texts may appear to be from a charity or may make use of the present issue to get you to click on a link or download a file. These could be targeted efforts to infect your computer with harmful software that steals your personal information, such as your credit card number or bank password, among other things.
- The Covid 19 phase saw a mushrooming of phishing emails, scam websites promising free tests and certificates. Individuals were asked to deposit funds on the promise of availing of immediate certificates. These fraudulent sites ask for personal information, including banking information. The attackers will then utilise this information to deplete the victims' bank accounts.
- Keep an eye out for attempts to reroute payments, such as last-minute changes to banking information, via phoney emails that appear to come from a reliable source. Hackers that use bogus corporate emails to steal money, personal information, and some fraud aspects should be avoided.
- Calls alleging you received an overpayment of stimulus money and requesting a "refund" of the difference should be avoided. If customers refuse to return the money, they risk facing penalties such as fines, confiscation, or arrest. Callers may demand payment via iTunes, Google Play, or Steam cards, as well as money transfers via Western Union or MoneyGram.
- Do not answer automated calls. No numbers should be pressed. Although the voice may claim that pressing a number will remove you from their call list or connect you with a live operator, this could result in more automated calls.
Other things you should watch out for
- Make sure that all of the COVID-19 information you receive is accurate. If you get any communications about the virus via social media or email or even in conversation with friends and family verify that the information comes from a reliable source before sharing it.
- Unrequested emails or attachments from someone you don't know should never be opened. Do not click on any of the links or attachments in the Email or visit any website that is unknown or have weird web addresses.
We hope the various aspects of fraud, shared in this article have given you relevant information about the various corporate frauds and the different ways to combat them. Irrespective of how lucrative some schemes may sound, you should not fall prey to them. The minute you are asked to make some cash deposits or transfer money, you should either report the numbers or block them immediately.
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Kindly report the case to either your card issuing bank or reach out to the nearest Cybercrime. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report the case.
Important: Never share OTPs, PINs, or any other codes that you receive via SMS or other channels. Never share your Account Number or Credit and Debit Card details on a public platform.