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How to avoid COVID-19 phishing emails and scams

Inside TXST

Jacob Sommers | April 10, 2020

man working on a computer

With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, scammers are using phishing emails, phone calls and advertisements to steal people’s personal information and money. 

 

While COVID-19 is looming large and legislation is being written to help citizens with their financial situations, scammers have the perfect opportunity to camouflage themselves and attempt to take advantage of you or a loved one.

Here are some tips from Texas State University's Division of Information Technology to keep you safe from scammers:

  • Hang up on robocalls. Don't press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam COVID-19 treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the coronavirus. Visit the FDA website to learn more.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn't been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources or checkhttps://www.usa.gov/coronavirus.
  • Know who you're buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products when they don't.
  • Don't respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Don't click on links from sources you don't know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don't let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don't do it.

Phishing emails are emails with the sole intention of scamming people. During this pandemic, cybercriminals have sent phishing emails designed to look like they’re from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. These emails might falsely claim a list of coronavirus cases in your area, urging you to click a link to get more information. 

If you encounter suspicious emails, be sure to forward them as an attachment to abuse@txstate.edu or use the tools within your browser to mark as phishing or spam.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922