Individuals intent on cybercrime strike when circumstances are particularly volatile or unstable. When defenses are down, their chances of a significant windfall increase dramatically. The current COVID-19 pandemic presents such an opportunity. But just like always, it is possible to mitigate and prevent cyberattacks at this time – if we take the right actions.

Cybercrime and COVID-19

COVID-19 presents cybercriminals with more opportunities, but not necessarily because your daily life has become disrupted. After all, your security protocols to prevent ransomware and the like cannot feel the stress and uncertainty associated with the current situation. Instead, cybercriminals can find loopholes through your response to the pandemic.

The U.S. government’s $2 trillion stimulus package for Americans will go toward household services such as rent, food, utility bills and any other service that we need to function during this difficult time. Along with the checks, however, will be a slew of malicious emails, calls and texts with a seemingly well-intentioned message promising support from the government – if you would just provide some key information about yourself.

What’s Real and Fake

Government officials have stated that the stimulus payments will be sent via direct deposit or physical check – depending on your 2018 or 2019 filings, if you have completed those already. There will be no wire transfers or credit cards issued.

But for individuals who do not know this information or distrust the system’s effectiveness, it may be especially difficult to identify attacks from a caller, texter or emailer who claims to be with the U.S. government. It may even be difficult to thwart these attempts when you are aware of how the stimulus package will work, as many are already anxious and vulnerable, and many of us need some form of financial assistance.

We have already seen a massive increase in scam calls and emails purporting to be from a government agency attempting to get money to families faster. Fortunately, these types of attacks are nothing new, even if the surrounding circumstances are unprecedented.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

Here are a few articles to help inform you. We have published many resources on how to identify and prevent scammers who are after your resources. We always remind our private clients and their family offices that the best way to respond to suspicious correspondence is do nothing. Do not provide any information. Do not respond. Trust the process, and you will receive your check as soon as the U.S. government is able to provide it.