It’s a challenging time for everybody. Sadly, these times of vulnerability are when scammers often prey on victims. We’ve identified and answered some of the key questions you should ask to protect yourself.
1. What’s PII and why is it so important?
PII stands for Personally Identifiable Information, often financial or medical information. Beware of any phone call solicitations or emails looking to collect your sensitive personal information.
TIME cites a conversation with Linda Sherry, director of Consumer Action organization. She recommends people use “extreme skepticism” toward any unsolicited requests for personal or business information. During this time of crisis, more and more fraudulent emails, phone calls, and even text messages will be sent by scammers trying to gather important information, such as social security numbers, banking information, etc. Protect yourself and your business by reaching out directly to the institution with any concerns.
2. Which government organizations can I trust?
Reading constant news cycles and internet feeds can become overwhelming. Stay up-to-date on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by following these reliable national organizations:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
3. Are there Coronavirus (COVID-19) cures?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encourages consumers to ignore any offers or advertisements for vaccinations, supplements, or prescription medication that are said to “cure” the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Both the FTC and U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sent warnings to seven companies claiming disease treatment or prevention practices.
4. Is Phishing still a thing?
Sadly, in a world where a crisis is reality, scammers have latched on to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and are using it as a tactic to send “fishy” news-like emails. The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends that individuals practice good cybersecurity behaviors. This includes not clicking on random links or downloading files from a person or organization you don’t normally interact with, otherwise you risk opening dangerous malware on your devices.
5. I’m newly unemployed — do I need to worry about fake job postings?
During times of uncertainty, it is important to be aware of anyone contacting you through an email or job search service you may not be working with. Some phony non-profit organizations have risen out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have cheated people into laundering money through donations. Use trusted job search networks such as LinkedIn or your professional connections to start your job hunt.