Cyber criminals using coronavirus in new e-mail scams

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OMAHA, Neb. — Cyber criminals are using the coronavirus outbreak as click-bait to steal personal information.

“We see scammers regularly taking advantage of these sensational circumstances whether it’s a natural disaster, in this case we’ve got what really could be a worldwide epidemic and they take advantage of that,” Better Business Bureau president Jim Hegarty said.

The e-mails sent out are phishing scams that contain malicious links and files, promoting awareness, sharing prevention tips and even spreading fake information on cases in your neighborhood.

“They’re just trying to latch on to the hotness of the topic quite frankly and the urgency that people are looking at that topic,” UNO cyber security assistant professor Matt Hale said.

Clicking links provided in the e-mails and opening any attachments can leave your personal information at risk.

“They’re trying to really make money off of you usually. Other times they’re trying to become you and actually steal your identity,” Hale said.

These e-mails come at a vulnerable time, as a plane is set to land in Omaha Friday carrying passengers that need to be quarantined.

“Right here in Nebraska we’re going to be quarantining some folks out of Camp Ashland. So just watch for anything that looks to be sort of sensational about this,” Hegarty said.

Experts share these tips to protect your personal information:

– Avoid opening suspicious e-mails
– Ignore online vaccination offers – there is no current vaccine for the coronavirus
– Make sure the anti-virus software on your computer is up-to-date

If you have any questions regarding coronavirus you can reach out to the newly-formed Douglas County Coronavirus Hotline at 402-444-3400.

If you’ve given away information and need help you can visit identitytheft.gov. For more information about phishing attacks and avoidance you can visit the Federal Trade Commission Website.



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