During the coronavirus crisis, we have seen great examples of humanity helping each other. Around the world, an army of volunteers has stepped up to help the vulnerable and those in need. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed a rise in charity scams, as fraudsters seek to exploit the crisis to carry out cybercrime.
As early as February 2020, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned that,
“Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.”
These scams cost you money and divert donations away from real charities and causes.
In this article, we outline the critical coronavirus scams and charity frauds, what to look out for, and how to protect yourself.
Many of the scams being employed are not new: they are classic cyberattacks with a new coronavirus angle in the way they are presented. Cyberattacks are malicious and deliberate attempts to breach an individual or organization's information system to gain some type of benefit.
Charity frauds tend to fall into two categories:
Generally, for any coronavirus scam, it is essential to remember that:
If you think you have provided your account details to a charity scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
If you or your charity is a victim of fraud or cybercrime, you can also report it to relevant organizations in your country:
Reporting charity frauds helps to warn others about current scams and allows the relevant agencies to monitor trends and disrupt scams. It is helpful to include details of the scam contact you received, such as an email or screenshot. Consider also using an anti-malware solution to help protect you from threats. For example, Kaspersky’s Internet Security provides advanced protection from ransomware and is available across most operating systems.
While charity frauds and coronavirus scams exist — it is crucial to remain vigilant. However, you should not be deterred from giving to genuinely good causes during a crisis. This is because charities do essential work, helping those in the greatest need. Just make sure you are giving to legitimate organizations and not cybercriminals trying to take advantage of the situation.