The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted cybersecurity and identity theft into the spotlight for both businesses and individuals. With many people working from home, the need for internet security is at an all-time high. Businesses are experiencing more cybersecurity attacks and their remote workers are targets of phishing. As we enter December, “Identity Theft and Prevention Month,” we want you to realize that internet scammers see increasing opportunity the longer we are ‘locked-down’ at home with increasing internet usage.
2020 is ‘an identity theft pandemic.’ According to the Federal Trade Commission, at the end of August 2020, more than 175,000 COVID-19-related reports about fraud, identity theft, and Do Not Call:
- Online orders are the #1 fraud complaint.
- Americans have reported $16 million in losses.
- Common scams include offers for masks, hand sanitizer, and other high-demand items that never arrive.
- Scam text messages related to bogus offers to earn income, phony economic relief programs, fake charities, and government imposters.
What can you do to minimize the chance of being a victim of cyber fraud?
- Start with accessing your credit report and check for errors, especially if you have ordered online during COVID-19.
- Avoid ordering products online from retailers that do not ‘check out’: physical address and phone number or email address listed.
- Do not open emails that look like phishing or are from companies or people you do not know.
- Do not answer phone calls or respond to text message offers-block phone numbers associated with both.
We need to protect ourselves from COVID-19 and ‘identity theft pandemic now more than ever. It is up to you to take some of the steps outlined above to protect yourself and deter how fraudsters are using our personal information.
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