NOTTINGHAM, MD—In recent weeks, there has been an increase in online scams related to COVID-19. These scams use phishing techniques in an attempt to steal personal information and money from victims. The Baltimore County Police Department is providing the following safety tips to help residents navigate COVID-19 information online safely.
Never Click an Unfamiliar Link
A common trick scammers use it to send a dangerous link disguised as useful or urgent information. Clicking on the link may infect the victim’s computer with a virus or take the user to a website designed to coerce them into entering personal information such as a social security number, credit card number, or password.
Citizens are encouraged to never click an unfamiliar link in an email or text message. Friends and family with the best intentions often accidentally share phishing links without realizing it.
Only Enter Personal Information on Trusted Sites
There has been a lot of uncertainty during the pandemic and scammers are preying on that fear. They may send emails or texts to say that a password has been compromised, the user’s power or internet is in danger of being shut off, or that he or she has other outstanding financial obligations that require immediate payment.
Anyone unsure about the status of their utility payments should contact their provider. It’s important to note that all major utility providers have committed to halting service disruptions due to non-payment during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who believes their password is no longer secure should visit the website directly and go through their secure password reset protocol.
Get Your Information from Official Sources
If there’s an important update regarding health and safety, it will be published through official channels. Scammers are attempting to take advantage of the pandemic by disguising phishing sites as legitimate information or creating false charities to steal money from people who genuinely want to offer assistance.
There are local, national, and international organizations working to keep the public informed about any new health guidelines.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of an online scam may call the Baltimore County Police Department’s Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit at 410-887-2190.
A report can also be filed for disaster-related scams or complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice on their website at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.