As Iowans take precautionary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, it is also important to protect your cyber health and security by being mindful of related scams.
Cybercriminals are quick to exploit concerns surrounding public health by luring individuals into sharing sensitive information. Cybercriminals attempting to access personal information may distribute malicious e-mail attachments or provide links to fake or fraudulent websites featuring protective products and services, or soliciting donations to fraudulent charities or causes. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Iowa Department of Public Safety warn citizens to exercise caution should they receive any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and to be wary of social media pleas, texts, or phone calls related to COVID-19.
State and federal public safety officials are encouraging the public to protect themselves from malicious online activity by following these six security tips:
1. KEEP PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT OF EMAILS
Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. See CISA’s Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.
2. USE EXTREME CAUTION WITH EMAIL ATTACHMENTS
Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails even if they appear to be sent by someone you know or from a source you may be inclined to trust and be wary of email attachments. See CISA’s Using Caution with Email Attachments.
3. ACCESS ONLY TRUSTED NATIONAL ONLINE MEDICAL RESOURCES
Check web addresses to ensure you are visiting legitimate government websites for the most current, fact-based information about COVID-19 in the U.S. Be wary of emails appearing to be generated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts claiming to have helpful information related to the virus. Proactively visit the official CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov and the coalition of World Health Organization websites that can be accessed at https://www.who.int.
4. VISIT OFFICIAL STATE OF IOWA AGENCY WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
• The Iowa Department of Public Health is the leading source for Iowa guidelines, testing and reported case-related information.
• Governor Kim Reynolds’ Office is providing daily statewide coronavirus status updates.
• The Department of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinates the State of Iowa’s collaborative response to COVID-19.
• The Iowa Attorney General’s Office cautions Iowans about coronavirus-related price gouging and fraud with an important set of alerts and recommendations.
• The Iowa Department on Aging is sharing recommendations and resources for protecting yourself and loved ones in long-term care facilities.
5. VERIFY A CHARITY’S AUTHENTICITY BEFORE MAKING DONATIONS
Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.
6. STAY ABREAST OF U.S. CYBER THREATS TO MITIGATE BUSINESS RISK
Review CISA’s insights on Risk Management for COVID-19 for more information. This page is continuously updated to reflect emerging threats as they are made available.
To report if you’ve been scammed:
Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Consumer Protection Division
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0106
Email: [email protected]
Phones: 515-281-5926 or 888-777-4590 (outside of the Des Moines metro area)
To report identity theft:
Iowa Department of Revenue
1305 E Walnut Street Fourth Floor, 0107
Des Moines 50319
Website Report Form: https://tax.iowa.gov/report-fraud-and-identity-theft