March 23, 2020 | 10:33 PM GMT+0800 Last Edit: May 12, 2020
A growing number of online fraudsters are exploiting the public fear surrounding the COVID-19, using the pandemic to lure people into clicking phishing emails and installing malwares capable of stealing personal data and money.
Our fear during a crisis can expose us to data privacy risks, predisposing us to make hasty or ill-informed choices online, which fraudsters are taking advantage of.
In view of these heightened risks, the National Privacy Commission is appealing to everybody to be very careful online, especially when using online financial services and accessing health-related apps. Be cautious with the sites you visit, enhance your privacy settings, and protect your personal data.
In this period of home quarantine, digital access becomes our main gateway not just for news but also to coordinate tasks with co-workers, make online financial transactions and most importantly, get in touch with loved ones.
Indeed, now is the worst possible time to fall victim to online fraudsters. They can steal your sensitive data, cause you financial and reputational damages, make your device unusable and cut you off from the outside world.
To avoid such scenarios, we need to be vigilant and familiarize ourselves with the warning signs.
The National Privacy Commission encourages everyone to practice the following tips to protect personal data in the time of COVID-19:
When you receive such messages, be skeptical. Look up the website or phone number for the company or person contacting you. Call them directly using the company’s official number or email. Never give any personal information especially your password and pin number.
Most phishing attempts use bad grammar and spelling. There are some, however, that looks legitimate and very convincing.
During this critical period, all our focus and efforts should go to the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We should avoid, at all cost, getting sidetracked by these digital pitfalls.
RAYMUND ENRIQUEZ LIBORO