Scam attempts related to coronavirus are becoming commonplace

The coronavirus outbreak has upended our day-to-day routines, and scammers are trying to take advantage of this confusion.

Fraudsters are using people’s thirst for news to lure them into providing their personal details. They are also trying to find and exploit vulnerabilities in the programs most commonly used to work remotely.

A Joint Warning by the US and the UK

In a joint statement, the governments of the U.S. and U.K. informed that cyber criminals are targeting individuals and organizations with ransomware and malware.

Typically, the fraudsters send e-mails that supposedly come from a trustworthy institution, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming to offer thermometers and face masks to fight the pandemic.

The messages may also include attachments with names such as  ‘zoom-us-zoom_##########.exe’ and ‘microsoft-teams_V#mu#D_##########.exe’ that are actually malicious files.  

Examples of phishing email subject lines include:

  • 2020 Coronavirus Updates
  • Coronavirus Updates
  • 2019-nCov: New confirmed cases in your City
  • 2019-nCov: Coronavirus outbreak in your city (Emergency)

In order to avoid cyber threats, the Department of Homeland Security of the United States recommends using only trustworthy, official sources of information and refraining from downloading files from e-mails with the characteristics mentioned above.

The IRS Also Warns Against Coronavirus Scam Attempts

The IRS has also warned about phishing attempts related to the Economic Impact Payments, the U.S. government stimulus geared towards helping taxpayers impacted by the outbreak of coronavirus. These are some of the red flags that should put you on alert:

  • The term Economic Impact Payment is not used in the message. Instead, they use the terms “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.”
  • A fake check with an odd amount is mailed, and you are ordered to call a number or verify information online to cash it
  • You’re asked to check your Economic Impact Payment to someone else.
  • You’re asked by phone, email or social media to verify your information in order to receive or speed up your payment.

What to Do?

If you receive a malicious email, don’t engage the sender and don’t download any files attached to the message.The scam attempts related to the IRS or the Economic Impact Payments can be reported to

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