COVID-19 Related Scams

We remind you that during media intense events like the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), cyber attackers are taking advantage of the situation by preying on our fears. They will try to scam you, or launch phishing attacks that attempt to get you to click on malicious links or open infected email attachments. Here are some of the most common indicators that the phone call or email you received is probably a scam or attack.

  • Any messages that communicates a tremendous sense of urgency. The bad guys are trying to rush you into making a mistake.
  • Any message that pressures you into bypassing or ignoring our security policies and procedures.
  • Any message that promotes miracle cures, such as vaccines or medicine that will protect you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be very suspicious of any phone call or message that pretends to be an official or government organization urging you to take immediate action.  

Please keep in mind Coronavirus scams and attacks can happen at work or at home, via email, text messaging or even over the phone. Don’t fall victim to bad guys playing on your emotions. If you feel you have received an attack, let us know at phishbowl@brown.edu, then mark the email as phishing to notify Gmail IT support.

Following are tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help you keep the scammers away:

  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

The Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) also offers this advice:

Phishing
Phishing Email (in the wild)

Written by pfalcon@brown.edu on