Tips for recognizing and avoiding phishing emails during this coronavirus crisis

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Tips for recognizing and avoiding phishing emails

Here are some ways to recognize and avoid coronavirus-themed phishing emails.

Like other types of phishing emails, the email messages usually try to lure you into clicking on a link or providing personal information that can be used to commit fraud or identity theft. Here’s some tips to avoid getting tricked.

  • Beware of online requests for personal information. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information. Never respond to the email with your personal data.
  • Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
  • Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
  • Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
  • Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.

Where can I find legitimate information about the coronavirus?

It’s smart to go directly to reliable sources for information about the coronavirus. That includes government offices and health care agencies.

Here are a few of the best places to find answers to your questions about the coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC website includes the most current information about the coronavirus. Here’s a partial list of topics covered.

  • How the coronavirus spreads
  • Symptoms
  • Prevention and treatment
  • Cases in the U.S.
  • Global locations with COVID-19
  • Information for communities, schools, and businesses
  • Travel

World Health Organization. WHO provides a range of information, including how to protect yourself, travel advice, and answers to common questions.

National Institutes of Health. NIH provides updated information and guidance about the coronavirus. It includes information from other government organizations.

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