In a time of uncertainty, there is a heightened risk of falling victim to scams concocted by those with ill intent. For cybercriminals and scammers, the coronavirus crisis creates an attentive audience who may be willing to accept false information in order to protect themselves from perceived risks.
Arm yourself not only against the virus, but against other threats, by learning how to detect them first with tips from the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID).
Know How Officials Operate
Knowing how legitimate organizations do business can give you a leg up on anyone who attempts to pull the wool over your eyes. Health officials you’ve never contacted will not email you or come to your door. If this happens, contact your local police department immediately. Legitimate health organizations will not intimidate you with repercussions if you do not do what is asked. If you are threatened with arrest, prosecution, or confinement, you can safely know that the representative you are dealing with is not working on behalf of a real agency.
Similarly, hospitals will not contact you seeking money to provide an urgent service for a loved one. If there is any question, contact your local hospital or the family member for further confirmation.
Your bank will not call you to offer investment alternatives or to move around funds during market uncertainty. Be especially suspicious if the contact comes from a financial organization that you do not have a relationship with.
Spot a Cyber-Threat
Some scammers are claiming your computer can be infected by a coronavirus; at present, there is not a digital version of the threat. This is a variation on a common scam where a caller claims to be a computer-support technician and offers to repair your device, then requests sensitive personal data to access it.
As always, follow good practices online and don’t open or click on links from unsolicited emails. These links or emails could contain malware. Never give away personal or financial information about yourself or others online without first verifying the source.
Below is a list of websites that have recently shown signs of malicious behavior detected by anti-virus software, per Army CID:
Other common scams can come in the form of phone calls and text messages. The White House is warning the public to ignore rumors of a national quarantine that have been circulating via text. By phone, criminals have been posing as friends or family members needing money to cover a “virus prevention fee” that must be paid to return from overseas.
Most scams include messaging that require immediate action. No matter how urgent it sounds, if something doesn’t sound quite right, it probably isn’t, and you can always contact an organization you know and trust for confirmation. Legitimate organizations can verify their information and will not pressure you into taking an action that you are uncomfortable with.
Know Your Sources
Seeking information from trusted sources can also help you steer clear of scams. MOAA has links to these organizations, as well as links for recent news updates, at MOAA.org/coronavirus. You can also contact your state, county, or city health department, your local hospital, your primary care physician, local medical clinics, or other locations where you receive medical services.
While we are unable to offer any medical advice, MOAA is here to guide you no matter where you are in your military career and beyond. To get exclusive access to all MOAA has to offer, join as a Premium or Life Member today.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Website
- CDC Advice for Higher-Risk Individuals
- VA Coronavirus Website
- TRICARE Coronavirus Information
- DoD Coronavirus Response Website
- Health.mil Coronavirus Information
- Military OneSource Coronavirus Resources
- National Institutes of Health Coronavirus Information
- From MOAA: What You Need to Know About the CARES Act
- Latest Coronavirus News from Military.com
- Latest Coronavirus News from Military Times