A Concerned Citizen Warns of COVID-19 Device Scams

By Nancie Jacobson

In the midst of any national disaster we can all be sure of one thing; we will see the very best from people. We’ve seen it time and again when our country has been faced with tough challenges and people from far and wide have stepped up together to help those in need.

But unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of people in troubling times. When it comes to the devices you use, such as cell phones and computers, there have been recent reports of scammers using the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to hack, steal, or ransom personal data, such as passwords, and credit card and bank account numbers. Beware of emails from unfamiliar sources asking you to click on a link for important virus updates, or messages on your cell suggesting you download an app for coronavirus mapping or information.

Don’t be fooled! Follow the do’s and don’ts you have always been told to follow while using your devices. First and foremost, don’t click on and open links from senders you don’t know, or download apps without checking the source. Don’t forward unfamiliar links to others in your contact list. Don’t provide personal information such as social security, credit card, and bank account numbers to any unchecked sources.

Do change your passwords often, and don’t use the same password on all of your accounts. Do keep your antivirus software device protection plans up-to-date. These services keep a vigilant check on your devices. A couple of reliable providers are Norton and McAfee. Do look for the “https” tag at the start of any website address. The “s” on the end is typically more secure than the “http”. Many secure websites also have a padlock icon next to the website. But, don’t just rely on the “s” or the padlock. Scammers are clever and can disguise themselves as a secure site.

If the website is unfamiliar, you may want to re-type the website name into a search engine like Google and do a little research on them before you decide if you want to proceed. When in doubt, don’t! And check out consumer.ftc.gov, a safe site, for more tips on keeping your devices and your personal information safe.