According to the FTC, Americans have already lost more than $40 million dollars to COVID-19 related scams online. This staggering number, combined with a massive uptick in new phishing sites, shows just how desperate scammers are to financially punish you during these trying times.
Whether they’re impersonating health officials, local governments, or even retail outlets, these sites won’t help you find cases in your area or sell you masks and gloves. Instead, they’ll steal your data and sell it to hackers on the Dark Web. Tap or click here to see just how bad the COVID-19 phishing problem has become.
But leave it to Google to take a step in informing the public about this digital menace. The company has created a new educational website designed to teach its users about scammer red flags, and it’s included a quiz to test just how well you know your frauds. Do you think you can beat it?
Are you at risk?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a startling rise in both scams and data breaches affecting millions of consumers. According to the FTC, more than $40 million has been lost to scammers in the past few weeks, and the rise in new phishing websites is no doubt connected. Tap or click here to see just how many there are.
In fact, several high-profile companies recently had their data revealed in breaches, which puts exposed users at greater risk of targeted scams and identity theft. Here are some of the biggest names, and what information was shown:
- Toondoo.com: Emails, login credentials and device information, e.g. IP addresses
- LimeLeads: Employer name and contact info, as well as work email addresses
- Health Share of Oregon: Protected health information, healthcare insurance account numbers, Social Security numbers and more personal data.
- Tetrad: Names and associated home addresses
- Marriott International: Employer names, home addresses, emails and phone numbers
If your information was revealed in these or any other breaches, you should consider yourself potentially marked for phishing and scam attacks. Whether they come by email or malicious link doesn’t matter — what’s important is knowing the red flags to watch out for.
Google tests your scam knowledge to keep users safe
To help protect users from falling victim to fraud and identity theft, Google has put together an informational resource that shows you the most common scams floating around at the moment — as well as ways to spot them before they can hurt you.
Google’s ScamSpotter page gives visitors a brief overview on common phishing and fraud threats, and includes trusted resources you can compare them to.
In addition, you can take a short, five-question quiz that tests your current knowledge of scams. If you get the answers right, it shows just how knowledgeable you are about these annoying threats to your privacy and security.
If you get them wrong, you might want to brush up a bit more on your scam knowledge. Tap or click here to see the scams you must avoid online.
As we’ve mentioned before, the biggest strength of phishing scams is also their biggest weakness. If you don’t fall for the trick in the first place, it can’t do anything to harm you. That’s why arming yourself with knowledge, like the kind in Google’s quiz, can help you stick to the safer parts of the web.
Even if a scam somehow squeezes its way into your inbox, if you know what to look for, you can delete it right away. As tempting or scary as some of these messages might seem, it’s not worth the risk of losing your money — especially in this day and age.