#ScamAwareness - stay safe online during COVID-19

While technology presents wonderful opportunities for those much needed feelings of connection, scammers are exploiting COVID-19 to commit fraud and cyber crime. Here, during #ScamAwareness, Home Instead Brighton, Hove & Shoreham offer some ways to stay connected and secure online.

Video calls

Being in touch with friends and family helps us all to stay connected and feel less isolated. Many of us are using video calls with elderly loved ones, but how safe are these? The BBC has produced a handy online guide to using video calls (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom), including how to use from an Android, iPhone, iPad, iMac or desktop computer. 

Remember, and remind others, that you should only click on an emailed or messaged video call link if you are expecting it. If not, always double-check with the person who it seems to be sent from.

Online scams

Scams can look and sound genuine, but the more you know about them, the easier they are to spot. Here are some types of online scams that are currently circulating:

* Email scams - trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus. 

The big scam at the moment is around Track & Trace. The official app is still in the early stages – and open to misuse. Very few people have been legitimately alerted by the app to self-isolate (to date). Scammers have, however, been sending a message that says:

“Someone who came into contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate / get tested. More at COVID-19anon.com/alert”.

If you get this, don’t visit the link! It’s definitely a scam.  

* Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-mapdotcom’.

People affected by dementia are also more likely to be vulnerable to scams. More information on this specifically from the Alzheimer’s Society.

Online security

Here are some things to be aware of generally to be more secure online:

* A website that is secure will have ‘https://’ in the website's address. It also sometimes has a locked padlock icon in the browser address bar which means anything you input will be encrypted (sent securely using a secret code).

* Don’t click on links to download anything from emails you receive from companies with a strange email address. These downloads often infect your computer with a virus, so make sure your antivirus software is up to date. And don’t respond to requests for money/payment.

* You can also search for registered companies on the GOV.UK website. If buying something on a website you haven't used before, first check it has a ‘terms and conditions’ page. The company’s address should also have a street name, not just a post office box.

Our CAREGivers are fully equipped to help. This can include help avoiding scams, with the weekly shop, housework or companionship; being there to keep an eye on health and wellbeing for your peace of mind. Please contact us for more information: 01273 284090.