COVID-19 Unemployment Identity Theft Cases on the Rise

COVID-19 Unemployment Identity Theft Cases on the Rise

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the entire employment image in America. Have you or a loved one needed to reach out to your state unemployment office due to being out of work (or experiencing a massive reduction in work hours)? As if that process wasn’t difficult enough! Unfortunately, many have experienced the shock and dismay when their unemployment claim is turned down for benefits due to a duplicate application. It is happening … and way too often. Hackers live for mankind’s vulnerability, especially during trying times like this.

 

We understand that it’s hard to know what you need to know especially during immense stress. The following are the five most common unemployment scams that we would like for you to be aware of:

 

Phishing email scams. Be wary of a sender you don’t know even if there are familiar logos visible in the email. Just because the email says it’s coming from your former employer’s CEO, doesn’t mean that it is legit. Verify the sender via phone before you trust the information that they are providing. If no one is available to verify it via a call … it’s a scam.

 

Debit and direct deposit card scams. Hackers know that states may use debit cards or payments via direct deposit to deliver benefits to you. If you are asked to provide personal identifying information (PII), such as date of birth, social security number, and/or bank account information before you actually apply for a card … it’s a scam. We have seen unemployment debit card scams that end up charging the victim for inactivity.

 

Fake phone call scams. The Department of Labor suggests to only use official government websites and phone numbers to file a claim for unemployment benefits. If someone calls you before you reach out for help … it’s a scam.

 

Jobseeker scams. If anyone is interested in hiring you immediately because you are the “perfect” candidate for a position you haven’t sought out … it’s a scam.

 

Fake job board website scams. If a website asks you to pre-register and give them your bank account information for your first paycheck … it’s a scam.

 

Here are some tips to help avoid unemployment benefit scams:

 

– Do not respond to unsolicited emails and texts. A state will not try to reach you and certainly won’t via text message.

 

– Do not click any type of website link even if it looks like it’s from one of your financial institutions. Scammers are really sneaky. Read our blog Do Not Click! for more information.

 

– Monitor your accounts closely. If an identity thief has enough information to apply (and receive) your benefits, it’s a pretty solid bet that they have information on your other accounts. Update your passwords, which is a step to take even not during a pandemic.

 

– Help keep your PII safe by making sure you’re dealing with a legitimate government representative.

 

 

Interested in learning how to file unemployment benefits in your state? Check this map, select the state where you worked, and you will be directed to the appropriate contact information. Be smart. Be vigilant. Be strong. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. We are available 24/7/365 for you and your family members at 1.888.966.GUARD (4827) and memberservices@guardwellid.com.

 

The Quick Rise of Phishing Scams – Do Not Click!

The Quick Rise of Phishing Scams – Do Not Click!

Many of us have been experiencing much more free time on our hands, which is great if you enjoy the sport of fishing, have a pile of books to read or Netflix shows to catch up on. Unless you are on the front line, life, as we know it during this pandemic, has forced the majority of us to slow down.

 

Our ‘new normal’ environment is a breeding ground for scammers to take advantage of you and your identity. Last month we wrote several blogs that specifically discussed the various types of coronavirus scams we had been witnessing. Check out Coronavirus Scams Are on the Rise, And More Coronavirus Scams, and Working From Home Cybersecurity Tips if interested in a quick refresher course or two.

 

Over the last two weeks we have seen a 70% increase in email phishing scams during this pandemic, which has undoubtedly touched every facet of our lives. These phishing scams may come across as emails and/or posts promoting coronavirus awareness. These messages will often offer prevention tips on how to stay well, what the symptoms of the virus may include and what to do in case you or a family member feel ill. Some are even creating fake “cases” of COVID-19 in your neighborhood so you feel more inclined to help out. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments. Don’t fall for any of it … but, in case you do, we suggest that you read our blog from October 2019 Accidentally Clicked on a Phishing Link – Now What?.

 

Today our advice is very simple: If you are not 100% certain of the origin of the email and/or link that you are being asked to click on … DO NOT CLICK. If for some reason you accidentally do click, there are some imperative steps to take to alleviate harm to you and/or the network you may be connected with:

 

– Try not to panic. This happens to everyone. Antivirus and anti-malware will come into play and you will need to have a full system scan. But first …

 

– End the session immediately by turning off Wi-Fi, unplugging from an ethernet cable or completely shutting down all of your devices.

 

– Initiate a back up of your files. Since you won’t be connected to the internet at this point, you won’t be able to accomplish this to the cloud. Having an external drive, DVD or thumb drive are always nice to have on hand during times like these.

 

– Change your login/password to email account(s) and enable two-factor authentication if this hasn’t already occurred.

 

– If you are employed by a company or organization, reference your manual and let your network administrator know of the potential issue.

 

– After all is said and done, check your antivirus/anti-malware software and run a full scan.

 

Being informed of what steps you may need to take before a slip up happens can help ease the potential damage (and your stress level) if it does. Be smart. Be vigilant. Be strong. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. We are available 24/7/365 for you and your family members at 1.888.966.GUARD (4827) and memberservices@guardwellid.com.

Zoombombing … the New Social Distancing Phenomenon

Zoombombing … the New Social Distancing Phenomenon

Video calls have gone from a novelty to a necessity practically overnight. The term ‘social distancing’ and the app, Zoom, have both become household names as millions of people are being forced to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The desire to stay connected with our loved ones and friends during this difficult time has sparked creative ways to virtually stay social through video birthday parties, happy hours, trivia nights, yoga sessions, and even weddings. CNBC reported this week that “the [Zoom] app has been the top free app for iPhones in the United States since March 18 … daily users spiked to 200 million in March, up from 10 million in December.”

 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom, a privately-held company headquartered in San Jose, CA, was used mostly for web conferencing webinars. Now it is being used by 90,000 schools across 20 countries. But, there are online security issues with the app and school districts have started to ban Zoom because of them. Why? Because of ‘Zoombombing,’ a phenomenon where uninvited guests (pranksters) join Zoom calls and broadcast porn or shock videos. How? Due to Zoom’s default settings, which don’t require a password to set a meeting and allow any participant to share their screen. Most Zoom meetings have a public link that, if clicked, allow anyone to join.

 

The Verge just reported that “Zoom adjusted their default settings for education accounts last week in an effort to increase security and privacy for meetings.” They also noted, “For everyone else, you’ll need to tweak your Zoom settings to ensure this never happens.” The process isn’t very simple…

 

If you schedule a meeting from the web interface, you won’t see the option to disable screen sharing. Instead:

 – Click on “Settings” in the left-hand menu

– Scroll down to “Screen Sharing” and under “Who Can Share?” click “Host Only”

– Click on “Save”

 

If you forget to change the setting before you start your meeting, there’s a way to modify your settings after it starts:

 – Once your Zoom meeting is running, click the caret to the right of the green “Share Screen” button in the center of the bottom row of icons

– Click “Advanced Sharing Options”

– A dialog box will pop up allowing you to switch screen sharing availability from all participants to the “Only Host”


Yes, these are very confusing times. Stay strong and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. We are available 24/7/365 for you and your family members at 888.966.GUARD (4827) and memberservices@guardwellid.com.