With COVID-19, social distancing and work-from-home are the new way of life. Whether you are online for work or leisure, fraudsters are out there working overtime to take advantage of this situation. They are also looking to lure you with false promises of early vaccination.
Here are our top tips to protect you from scams and help you stay safe online:
- Stay updated: While you would like to stay updated with what is happening with respect to COVID-19, always ensure to use trusted sources and legitimate media websites for any updates. Do not click on any links or open any suspicious attachments asking you to download details with reference to COVID-19
- COVID-19 Vaccine Scams: Many of you may be waiting for your COVID-19 vaccine. While the stocks for the vaccine get replenished, you may be getting impatient. But be aware — don’t get lured by any offers to get the vaccine early or out of turn. To trick you, fraudsters may ask you to pay to obtain the vaccine, or send you a malicious link to download the COVID vaccination app. They may also claim to be from a medical office, insurance company or COVID-19 vaccine centre looking to check your eligibility. Beware and do not fall for such false vaccination advertisements.
- Video conferencing: When you are using any app/platform for video conferencing, ensure you share the meeting link only with the participants you prefer and keep the password unique and difficult for hackers to guess. Also, ensure to lock your meeting after it starts
- Secure your gadgets: Keep your mobile's operating system and applications, including the browser, updated with the latest security patches and upgrades. Whether working from home or simply online for other reasons, stay up-to-date with virus protection softwares
- Malware menace: If an email has an attachment, don’t click on it automatically. It could contain malware that may impact your device’s safety and compromise any sensitive data on it
- Look for the PAD Lock: Whether buying groceries, medicines or banking online, look for the lock icon in the status bar of your web browser. The lock indicates that the site is using an encryption technology to protect your sensitive data
- Someone’s Phishing: If an email/SMS urgently asks you to take action or warns of consequences, that should be a red flag! Don’t comply until you have verified the message. There are messages asking to update your KYC details to avoid getting your account blocked, share sensitive banking details to defer your EMI or to claim your rewards points. They could be phishing for confidential information! Stay alert. An easy way to identify a fake message is they usually have spelling, punctuation, and many grammar errors. Just delete the email/SMS immediately
- Beware of Vishing: You may want to do your bit and donate towards certain causes. It’s important to protect yourself from fraudsters who seek to exploit this crisis for their profit. Always check the source is authentic before you decide to donate. Don’t give out any personal, official or any sensitive details to anyone. Voice phishing is called vishing and is a tried and tested method used by scam artists to lure you into sharing your sensitive banking details through phone calls
- Verify, verify, verify: Be cautious when you receive communication on discounted online streaming subscriptions, work from home offers or discounts on medical products like masks, vaccines and COVID-19 testing kits etc. Verify the details and avoid clicking or sharing any sensitive information. Even if an email comes through from someone you know but seems to ask for unusual things, beware — verify directly with the source over a phone call. It will also give you a chance to say a quick ‘hello’!
- Password care: Avoid using same passwords for different account. While your passwords should be memorable, it should not be guessable. That means you shouldn’t include information in your password that’s easily available online; for example, your date of birth, your pets’ name, street name, special days etc. Why make it easy for fraudsters?
Despite taking all possible precautions, if something does go wrong or seems suspect, don’t panic. Report the fraud immediately. Stay safe, stay alert.