Phishing scams on the rise during pandemic

National News

There’s been an increase in phishing scams during the pandemic, where con artists send out emails and texts hoping to reel in victims. The pandemic led to job losses and people signing up for unemployment benefits online, something con artists have keyed in on.

Steve Ragan is with Akamai Technologies and recently uncovered a fake New York unemployment website that looked like the real thing. It’s since been taken down. Ragan said scam artists sent a text or email directing jobless workers to their site. After a username and password were entered, the fake site asked for their mother’s maiden name and pin number. Once the information was entered, users were actually sent to the real New York page.

“Unemployment fraud like this is happening all across the country in every state,” Ragan said.

CBS News correspondent Nancy Chen asked Ragan if people who enter in their personal information on these fake sites even realize that they’ve been scammed? “No, they do not.” Ragan said. “By the time the scam is over, in fact, it forwards you to the real domain and you’ll never notice.”

But the scam artist now has the info and can log on as the unsuspecting victim and find even more personal information. “Everything that a criminal would need to commit fraud using your identity,” Ragan explained.

Last year, the FBI received 241,342 complaints about phishing scams, with people losing around $54 million.

CBS News tech reporter Dan Patterson says, “If you do fall for one of these phishing scams, the consequences can be pretty severe.” Patterson says criminals who get personal info can sell it on the Dark Web. “Think twice before you click on any link in your email or your text messages,” he says.

One way to spot a fake site is to double-check the URL. For example, look out for extra letters that shouldn’t be at the end of the URL. An extra letter or two is a small difference that can lead to big problems if your info ends up in the wrong hands.

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