The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for everyone. But for migrants and overseas workers, the current climate has made it especially tough to live and work. Without being able to physically hold your family and friends, you may be left feeling particularly fearful, helpless, and alone. Protecting yourself from COVID-19 whilst continuing to support your loved ones overseas can often seem like an impossible task.
At One World Connect, we understand that the very last thing you need is to be targeted by scam artists and cyber criminals during this crisis.
Around the world, reports of scams relating to coronavirus have been rising.
With the entire world shifting further online, it’s important to remain in control of all your personal information and finances. To help you stay safe from these online scams, we have listed below the top COVID-19 scams to look out for.
- VACCINATION SCAMS
These scams include offers of mailing and early access to vaccines, offers to pay money as an investment opportunity in the vaccine manufacturers, and fake surveys offering prizes and early access to vaccinations.
To avoid vaccination scams, don’t click on suspicious links from direct chat, emails or text messages and refrain from giving out personal and financial information to unexpected callers. COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary and free, so don’t pay for early access to vaccines or offers to be on a waiting list.
Furthermore, be aware of how vaccines are distributed in your country and ignore any unreliable information. Scammers can impersonate agencies such as the World Health Organisation, so always source information about the pandemic independently from official websites.
2. PHISHING SCAMS
Scammers worldwide have been impersonating travel agents, telecommunications companies, and even government agencies to try and ‘phish’ your personal and financial data. They will usually ask for information such as your address, bank details, or even your PIN number.
Scammers will try to reach you through phone calls, text messages and emails that contain malicious links and attachments claiming to provide information on COVID-19. They may also offer to help you apply for financial assistance and payment for staying home, or seek payment for services and goods you did not purchase.
To protect yourself from these phishing scams, avoid clicking on hyperlinks even if they appear to be from a trusted source. Verify the legitimacy of contacts by finding them through phone books or online searches. And if you believe a scammer has called you, hang up immediately and contact your telco to seek assistance.
3. ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS
Dozens of online stores selling fraudulent goods related to COVID-19 are being offered by scammers. These fake or non-existent products that are offered include home test kits, face masks, vaccinations, and even supposed cures.
It’s understandable why people fall for these websites as the latest technology is used to make them look as genuine as possible. Scammers may use sophisticated designs and layouts, possibly stolen logos, and even advertise on social media platforms.
To prevent being scammed, take notice of whether the product on offer is advertised at an unbelievably low price, or has a list of unrealistic benefits. Additionally, if the retailer does not have adequate information about delivery and other policies or allow secure payment such as PayPal, they may be fake. Checking reviews before purchasing is the best way to detect an online shopping scam.
4. DONATION SCAMS
One of the most inhumane scams relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are online donation scams. These fraudsters will pose as genuine fundraisers and charities to elicit donations intended to support COVID-19 relief.
These scammers exploit the pandemic by posing as reputable-looking organisations, often choosing names that resemble well-known charities. They may also pose as people in need, saying things like how they are ill, stranded in another country, or are acting on the behalf of a friend or relative who needs financial aid.
Not only do these scammers divert donations from real causes, but also take advantage of people’s kindness during such a vulnerable time. If you do wish to donate to COVID-19 relief, check for any information or media coverage that can assure the organisation’s validity.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, you have probably been using online services more than ever before. Scammers can more easily reach you over the phone, through social media, email or text messages, and fake websites.
If you suspect that you’ve sent money to or shared your financial details with a scammer, contact your financial institution and they may be able to stop or reverse the transaction, or freeze your accounts.
Report to your local consumer protection agency if you suspect a scam, and if you have experienced a scam over social media such as Facebook or Instagram, report it to the platform.
Additionally, if you believe your device has been infected with malware, reset all your online passwords and invest in a security software.
We can do this!
Although COVID-19 presents its challenges, by being aware of these difficulties and staying connected online with our relatives and loved ones, we can make it easier for ourselves during these rough times.