Watch out for coronavirus scams online, like a malicious live map of COVID-19 cases

Watch out for coronavirus scams online, like a malicious live map of COVID-19 cases
Laptop computer with a medical mask (Source: Dimitri Karastelev)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WWSB) - A website displaying a live map of COVID-19 cases is really a malicious site mimicking the legitimate map by Johns Hopkins University.

Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians that if unwitting users click on the website, a program is activated that can access and steal sensitive user data. Her office says it is suspected that the website is being spread through infected email attachments and online advertisements.

Scammers are also sending phishing emails that appear to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization asking for sensitive information or instructing people to click on suspicious links and open malicious attachments.

If you get a strange email, contact the organization directly.

The following are more tips to avoid coronavirus-related scams from the Attorney General’s Office:

  • If malware is suspected, do not shop online, access online banking or do other activities that involve sensitive information like usernames, passwords, or account information until it has been checked out;
  • If malware or other issues are suspected, seek technical support from a trusted provider;
  • Install and update security software regularly;
  • Know that online searches may not be the best way to seek tech support. Tech support scammers may pay to boost rankings in online search results. Instead, seek personal recommendations or consider visiting an electronics store for assistance;
  • Only buy products from reputable stores and websites;
  • Be sure online stores have working contact information. Before offering up personal information, make sure the store has a real street address and working customer service number;
  • Research product claims. Evaluate claims of any medical product before buying, and watch out for products claiming to offer a miracle cure for a range of ailments;
  • Check with medical professionals before purchasing an unproven health product; and
  • Research before donating. Search for the charity’s name online, using the words scam or complaint, and check resources for information about the charity, such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at 1(703) 247-9321.

If you suspect a scam or a falsely marketed product or price gouging, contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or by visit myfloridalegal.com.

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