Online coronavirus scams to avoid and the red flags that give them away

Smishing, vishing and phishing are being used by cybercriminals to exploit people’s COVID-19 fears

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As people continue to have fears about the coronavirus, cybercriminals will continue to try to exploit those fears.

This week, insurance broker World Insurance Associates published a report on scams to avoid during the pandemic.

Those scams include smishing, vishing and phishing, according to the company.

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Smishing, according to World Insurance, uses text messages to send victims links to websites, email addresses or phone numbers that can trigger malware if they are clicked.

Hackers that use vishing exploit Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and broadcasting services, according to World Insurance.

By vishing, cybercriminals can “entice victims to call certain numbers and give out sensitive, personal information,” the report said.

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Phishing is when hackers use email or malicious websites to access personal information, according to World Insurance.

Many times, cybercriminals send emails that appear to be from a trustworthy organization -- either a financial company that needs account information or charities and other organizations around specific events or times of year.

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Some phishing red flags to look out for, according to World Insurance, include suspicious mailing addresses (since the email address may appear legitimate), generic greetings, poor grammar or sentence structure and suspicious attachments.

World Insurance also reported that another red flag is spoofed hyperlinks and websites. To tell if a link is spoofed or not, hover your cursor over a link -- don’t click on it -- and see if the actual link matches the text. If the text and link don’t match, that’s a spoofed link.

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