Not only has COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our professional and personal lives, but it has also led to a host of new avenues for cybercrimes that threaten our safety online. According to the Federal Trade Commission, COVID-19-related scams more than doubled—from approximately 22,000 to nearly 50,000—between April and May of 2020.
Unscrupulous individuals can pretend to be from a reputable source—such as an unemployment office, financial institution, or potential employer—and call or email you asking for sensitive information like a bank account number or Social Security number. This type of scam can be very effective, as it preys upon people’s frustrations with delays in processing unemployment claims or stimulus funds, frustrations which have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19.
The rise in online shopping has also created new opportunities for cybercriminals. Scammers posing as retail employees are now reaching out through phone calls or emails asking you to confirm credit card information for a recent order you may have placed. As a general rule, it’s best to stick with retailers that you know and avoid suspicious-sounding offers or discounts from unfamiliar companies. When in doubt, never divulge sensitive information to someone calling you on the phone unless you can confirm who they are and where they’re calling from.
Once these scammers have access to your sensitive information, they can infiltrate your personal files to extract identity and credit information to steal your identity, penetrate bank accounts and other financial assets, and falsely collect funds intended for you.
Working from home—as so many have resorted to doing due to the pandemic—has introduced a whole new set of cybercrime opportunities.
Home internet security is typically not as robust as corporate firewalls and safety protocols, leaving dangerous lapses in the protection of sensitive corporate and client information. Using personal cell phones to conduct business or holding virtual meetings on various platforms also make your data vulnerable to cybercrime.
There are steps you can take to help keep yourself from becoming a victim, starting with education. It is important to realize that no government agency would ever call or email you directly to request personal or financial information. If you do receive any communication from a financial institution or retailer that may be suspect, contact them directly using information from their website.
Be sure that your home antivirus software is up-to-date and consider whether you have taken all reasonable steps to protect your stored information. When it comes to your financial data, you may want to investigate protections available through your credit card company. Another option is investing in an Identity Theft insurance policy from a reputable company like LifeLock or ID Shield.
Finally, there is also the protection provided by your home insurance policy, as standard market carriers provide identity theft coverage varying from $500 to $5,000. High Net Worth insurance carriers offer policies with higher limits as well as a diagnosis of your personal internet security system. For more information about cybercrime vulnerabilities and coverage, contact your Atlas Insurance representative.
If you’d like to learn more about personal cyber insurance, please reach out to us for a quote.