Coronavirus (COVID-19) Privacy Resource Center : Avoiding COVID-19 Cyber Threats and Scams

Avoiding COVID-19 Cyber Threats and Scams

It is vital to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Cybercrime is at an all-time high and cybercriminals are capitalizing on Coronavirus fears by using online scams to extract internet users’ personal and financial information. These scams are being sent through email, texts or social media and claim to provide coronavirus awareness, sell virus prevention products and/or ask for donations to a charity. They often appear to be from a legitimate and familiar organization or individual.

Click here to download our infographic on COVID-19 scams.

April 1, 2020 – FBI: Cyber Actors Take Advantage of COVID-19 Pandemic to Exploit Increased Use of Virtual Environments

The FBI anticipates cyber actors will exploit increased use of virtual environments by government agencies, the private sector, private organizations, and individuals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Computer systems and virtual environments provide essential communication services for telework and education, in addition to conducting regular business. Cyber actors exploit vulnerabilities in these systems to steal sensitive information, target individuals and businesses performing financial transactions, and engage in extortion.

Today’s rapid incorporation of education technology (edtech) and online learning could have privacy and safety implications if students’ online activity is not closely monitored.

March 31, 2020 – FTC Data Shows Jump in Coronavirus-related Complaints from Consumers

Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission related to the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) have surged in recent weeks. Since the beginning of the year, the FTC has received more than 7,800 coronavirus-related reports from consumers, double what they were about a week ago. The top categories of coronavirus-related fraud complaints include travel and vacation related reports about cancellations and refunds, reports about problems with online shopping, mobile texting scams, and government and business imposter scams.

March 26, 2020 – FTC Chairman Joe Simons Outlines the Agency’s Approach to Safeguarding Consumers during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons issued a statement on the agency’s continuing efforts to protect consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. The FTC’s staff is working hard with other enforcement authorities and stakeholders to stop scammers and other unfair and deceptive business practices during the pandemic, Chairman Simons stated.

“We will not tolerate businesses seeking to take advantage of consumers’ concerns and fears regarding coronavirus disease, exigent circumstances, or financial distress,” Simons said. Consumers should report coronavirus-related scams at

March 20, 2020 – FBI See Rise in Fraud Schemes Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits. The FBI advises you to be on the lookout.

March 20, 2020 – Microsoft: Protecting Against Coronavirus Themed Phishing Attacks

The world has changed in unprecedented ways in the last several weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. While it has brought out the best in humanity in many ways, as with any crisis it can also attract the worst in some. Cybercriminals use people’s fear and need for information in phishing attacks to steal sensitive information or spread malware for profit. Even as some criminal groups claim they’ll stop attacking healthcare and nursing homes, the reality is they can’t fully control how malware spreads.

March 19, 2020 – FTC: Coronavirus Scams, Part 2

The Federal Trade Commission issue an update on more scams they’re seeing, and steps you can take to protect yourself, your personal information, and your wallet.

March 6, 2020 – CISA: Defending Against COVID-19 Cyber Scams

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

Norton – Coronavirus Phishing Emails: How to Protect Against COVID-19 Scams

The overwhelming amount of news coverage surrounding the novel coronavirus has created a new danger — phishing attacks looking to exploit public fears about the sometimes-deadly virus. How does it work? Cybercriminals send emails claiming to be from legitimate organizations with information about the coronavirus.

Coronavirus-themed phishing emails can take different forms, including CDC alerts. Cybercriminals have sent phishing emails designed to look like they’re from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The email might falsely claim to link to a list of coronavirus cases in your area. “You are immediately advised to go through the cases above for safety hazard,” the text of one phishing email reads.

February 10, 2020 – FTC: Coronavirus Scammers Follow the Headlines

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.

The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.