FBI: Cyber crimes on the rise during coronavirus pandemic

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(WSPA) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants you to be careful when you go online: The agency says cyber crimes are on the rise in the time of COVID-19.

“It’s really too early to tell the exact numbers but I can assure you the trend is up,” said FBI Public Affairs Officer Don Wood.

Wood told 7News cyber criminals have tailored some traps to trick those thinking about the coronavirus pandemic.

“People will be looking for more information on coronavirus,” he said. “They may be sent a fraudulent link to the CDC website.”

That fake CDC website could then prompt visitors into clicking more links. For example, it could offer free personal protective equipment just by following a link.

“Once you click the link, you could be downloading a virus,” Wood said. “You’ll definitely be taken to a site that is not legitimate that has its purpose set up to get your personal information and financial information.”

That is just one example.

A more classic scam that is still tricking many Americans is the email extortion scam. These emails will threaten the recipient to pay a sum of money or run the risk of the sender leaking compromising photos, personal data or financial information.

“They’re blackmailing you over the internet,” Wood said.

There is good news, though. All of these crimes are preventable if you remain cautious, Wood said. He provided some tips to protect yourself from online criminals:

  • Do not download email attachments from senders whom you do not recognize.
  • Do not follow links sent to you from senders you do not recognize.
  • Be cautious about offers for free services. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
  • Update your computer regularly.
  • Update your computer’s security software regularly.
  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts or websites.
  • Change passwords frequently.
  • Change your Wi-Fi’s password semi-frequently.
  • Monitor your bank statements for suspicious activity.

If you believe you’ve encountered a scam, you can report it by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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